Imagine a big black woman, Myrna from Montreal, who decides to drive South, but feels peckish after an hour and a half and so stops and bumps into a one-vache town, a fairy-tale town:
Three Pines had what she craved. It had croissants and cafe au lait. It had steak frites and the New York Times. It had a bakery, a bistro, a B & B, a general store, it had peace and stillness and laughter. It had great joy and great sadness ….
It had sweet gay couples and poor married artists and old unmarried women; it had village size problems and village size evil and village style murder. It had Christmas, and at Christmas, “homes full of people there and not there,” yakking away in English and French. Myrna never leaves. Inspector Gamache, on the other hand, comes and goes. Each time there is a murder.
The bistro was his secret weapon in tracking down murderers. Not only in Three Pines but in every town and village in Quebec. First he found a comfortable cafe or brasserie or bistro. Then he found the murderer. Because Armand Gamache knew something that others didn’t. At the root of each murder was an emotion. Warped no doubt, twisted and ugly, but an emotion. One so powerful it had driven a man to make a ghost. Gamash’s job was to collect the evidence. But also to collect the emotions. And the only way he knew to do that was to get to know the people. To watch and listen, to pay attention. And the best way to do that was in a deceptively casual manner, in a deceptively casual setting. Like the bistro.