|10 February 2016|
Three Pines is a tiny village to the south of Montreal in Québec, Canada, close to the US border. Maps haven’t discovered it yet, though you can find the village in the series written by Louise Penny. It seems to appear from the middle of nowhere to weary travellers – tired of running, of chasing or of hiding, tired of looking to belong, tired of their existence. The village takes them in, adjusts itself to fit them in, heals them, and helps them find friends. And perhaps, eventually, find themselves.
It’s minuscule – maybe a couple of hundred people stay there. Rivière Bella Bella flows through it – can there be a prettier name for a river? The houses there are quaint, and the people kind, warm and courteous. The food is marvellous – maple-cured back bacon, eggs benedict, café au lait and desserts at Gabri and Olivier’s bistro; croissants and other succulent warm bread at Sarah’s boulangerie. There’s the painter couple, Peter and Clara Morrow, whose trials and tribulations as artistes struggling with inner and outer demons, form a running thread in the series. There’s Ruth Zardo, a cantankerous, foul-mouthed old lady who is also perhaps the greatest living poet in Canada. There’s the Hadley house, where old Timmer Hadley had died, leaving behind her son Ben. Myrna Landers, the generous and philosophical former psychologist, runs the library and second-hand bookstore, and Monsieur Beliveau the all-purpose general stores. And there are many others – gentle, old-world people, caring and affectionate. These are people who have struggled to find an anchor in the world, and ended up in this tiny village. And set roots.
Three Pines holds a secret, though. It has had perhaps the most number of murders for any locale in fiction, per capita. Evil lurks at Three Pines, and the village-folks will have their lives singed and scorched by it. Some will be threatened, some will get hurt, some will be murdered, and some will even commit the heinous crime. Evil does not distinguish.