Glass Houses begins in the present, with Gamache on the witness stand at a murder trial. The story moves back and forth between this trial and the recent past (eight months earlier) when the events leading to the murder occurred.
These events began with a mysterious figure, dressed all in black – robes, hood, mask, gloves, boots, the whole works – shows up in Three Pines. No one knows who it is and, legally, Gamache can take no action to make the person move on. The unknown individual’s identity is so obscured by the disguise and their presence so menacing, the villagers have taken to thinking of him/her as Death.
Indeed, the whole book seems to be about death: death in the past, death in the present, and deaths that will occur in the future.
“That thing is here because someone in the village doesn’t have a quiet conscience.”
While more revelations and research shed light on the figure or, more accurately, what its presence represents, everyone is still in the dark as to who it may have come for.
Then there is the murder.
From the start, the story is dark and obscure and remains that way for about one-third of the book, around which time a body is discovered and the victim revealed. Even then, you don’t know who is on trial until much later on.
In many ways, while connected, the murder is secondary to the real issue at hand, a problem being fought by Gamache and his team. He is fighting a war he is determined to win. There is plenty of subterfuge going around and Gamache is in the thick of it with his own barely legal masterminding and manoeuvring. The murder is not Gamache’s main objective but he uses the circumstances and the trial as pawns in his war. While the means he uses seem the only way to win this war, the consequences can be devastating, even if he wins.
The book started out on a slow simmer, with the temperature climbing bit by bit after the first quarter. From there, it steadily builds up into a raging and shocking inferno. It was a different pace from usual but I enjoyed it, and I’m eager to know how the consequences arising from all that happened in Glass Houses play out in the next book, Kingdom of the Blind.