I've read Carolyn Hart and Joan Hess. They write 'cozy mysteries'. I had heard about Louise Penny's cozy mystery series featuring Montreal detective Inspector Gamache, but had never read one until I received the ARC for her latest, The Brutal Telling. This is no cozy mystery. It is a dark, complex mystery that has all the trappings of a cozy mystery (small town, fireplaces, B&Bs, etc.)but Penny doesn't follow the formula. Though Gamache is a different type of inspector for me (he's quite, friendly and thoughtful,) Penny makes good use of him and his team of investigators.
With a story line of a dead body found on the floor of the popular restaurant, the story could have petered out and become tiresome quickly. However, although nobody in the town says they know the stranger, the reader knows this isn't true. But we don't know if the person that knew the stranger actually committed the crime. Though investigating a crime in a small town where everyone knows one another is often times like trying to unravel a knot of Christmas tree lights, Gamache and his team see beyond the niceness and uncover a secret that unfortunately shows that greed and murder do not stop at the city limits.