©2005 Louise Penny; (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Cerebral, wise and compassionate, Gamache is destined for stardom. Don't miss this stellar debut." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Filled with unexpected insights, this winning traditional mystery sets a solid foundation for future entries in the series." (Publishers Weekly)
I loved this book and the narrator was perfect. This is a gentle mystery with no violence but filled instead with compassion and a real moral compas. I grew very fond of the villagers and of Gamache (Chief Inspector) who I would love to have as a neighbour....and there is enough mystery to keep fans happy. I give this five stars and if I could give the narrator ten if I would.
This is the first audiobook of Lousie Penny's that I've listened to, and now I'm eager to listen to more. Inspector Gamache is a wonderful character: tough yet sensitive; a dry wit and deep intellect; but he's not perfect. He makes mistakes but he has the humility to admit them and move on. He's the kind of inspector that I would want investigating my murder, if I ever have the misfortune of being murdered. In this particular novel, a painting is as much as a character as the characters themselves, which is an interesting technique that works well. The narrator, Ralph Cosham, does a fine job with all the characters, although sometimes I could not discern between the men as much as the women.
The pace of the novel is as slow as life inside Three Pines, but that suited me since it gave me ample time to develop the characters and consider who might be the murderer. Penny paints a "still life" of Three Pines in her novel, but I appreciate that attention to detail. By the end of the novel, I felt like I had been to Three Pines and had had tea or whisky with its citizens.
My only complaint is with the sudden departure of Nichole, the upstart who tries Gamache's patience and finally earns herself a figurative kick in the pants. I expect that this character will show up again in the series; otherwise, what was the point? I mean, Nichole was a good foil for Gamache, but Penny spends enough time on developing her character that I started to care about what she did or said (even if what she did or said made me cringe). I'm looking forward to listening to more of Ms. Penny's work.
For those of you who like a well-developed, even-paced, and slightly twisted mystery, this one's for you.
What a wonderful book. The depth of the characters, the setting south of Montreal, the spattering of Francophone language throughout the book, all lead to a mesmerizing story. I desperately need another dose of Chief Inspector Gammache and the other unique characters from this small town!
Thinker Meets Explorer
I first started this series with the fifth novel, The Brutal Telling, which quickly drew me into the quiet charm – and unexpected intrigue – of Quebec’s Three Pines. A rural village south of Montreal, this community is home to a host of all-too-human characters, my favorite being the mysteries’ hero: the tough yet compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.
Listening to Still Life was like a reunion with close friends, made even more intimate by Ralph Cosham’s around the fireplace-esque narration. This is a series for those who like their mysteries well-written, their protagonists multilayered, and their murders offstage. I can’t wait to listen to the next, A Fatal Grace.
I enjoyed every minute--the details of the town, and its inhabitants, are captivating. the narrator is especially suited to the charm of these characters.
I'm glad I didn't read the other review before listening to this book! Perhaps, because I'm not a man I loved the writing. I bought and am currently listening to Ms. Penny's second book because the town she creates, along with the people who inhabit it, is so vividly described I want to go for a visit. (Except someone gets murdered in this tiny little village every couple of years!)
If you like Englizh 'cozies' I think you'll like this book. If you want an action thriller, perhaps you should pick another writer.
You cannot help but love the characters in this book. I want to move to Three Pines! It's a good mystery, but also wonderful at character development! I absolutely loved it, and have read all the rest of her books since reading this first one in the series.
Great reader too!!!
This may be my favorite 'cozy mystery' series of all times. Louis Penny has created a set of characters that live and breath and beg for multiple sequels. Her insightful observations about human nature combine with witty dialog and complex characters to create a world I never want to leave. I have read this series over and over again and the magic still hasn't worn off.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
After I read "How the Light Gets In" recently, I was inspired to go back to the beginning of Louise Penny's wonderful series about Chief Inspector Gamache, his agents of the Surete', and the charming village of Three Pines, with its idiosyncratic residents. "Still Life" introduces Gamache and his agents to the Three Pines inhabitants, and introduces all of them to the reader. I had read Still Life several times over the years since it first came out, and each time I saw more and more things to wonder at and to in admire Louise Penny's writing. This time, hearing the novel narrated by Ralph Cosham, I gained another perspective on a good story written by a superior writer.
To my view, what makes the Gamache series unique, and oh so wonderful, is the way in which Penny takes time to explore the inner viewpoint of each and every character over the course of the books. And, of course, the most complete exploration of character is that of Gamache. Each book, starting with this one, increases and expands our knowledge of him, his beliefs, motivations, and above all, his gentleness and kindness. Ralph Cosham has become Gamache for me, with exactly the voice, deliberation, mildness and steel that Louise Penny has created with her words.
If you've never read Louise Penny's books, I urge you to do so, and to start with Still Life. In order to really get the full impact of the evolution of these characters, you need to read these books in chronological order.
Highly, highly recommended!
This is such a great series of books. The writing, the character depth, the town becomes a character, the language is a character, the narration is prestine. You really love the Inspector and his crew. Wonderfully done. This is my third.
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