Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces - and this series - with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.
©2005 Louise Penny (P)2006 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I took a flier on this book based on another reviewer (the indefatigable Charles Atkinson), and am glad I did. Penny's writing style reminds me of P.D. James, about as high a compliment I can pay. The characters are well-crafted, interesting and varied, making actual people seem like cardboard cutouts. It almost doesn't matter if nothing happens.
But stuff does happen. The plot is just as well crafted, and I never get the sense that things run to formula. I love a good mystery, so it's a real treat when I'm both carried along with the story and surprised by each new scene.
If I have one criticism it's that, like James, Penny creates great suspense and anticipation and then lets the air out of the climax a little bit rather than giving the reader the full payoff of the reveal. I guess I'm a sucker for the the drawing room revelation. And in fairness, she isn't quite the party-pooper James is in that regard.
In short, I'll probably binge on every word Penny's ever scrawled until I've plowed through the entire lot. It's that good.
This is a story of a police inspector investigating a death in a small Canadian town. It reminds me of the Mrs. Pollifax and Cat Who series in that regard, but instead of a citizen investigator there is a police presence. The book is easy to follow when multitasking, but layered enough to be interesting. The investigators have varying dynamics and capabilities that are more developed than the personalities of the townsfolk. I think the series would be great for entertainment during travel.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
I admit to trying this book and this series after going some time without any new additions from my favorite authors. It has proven to be a wise and wonderful decision. As of this writing I am on my 3rd Gamache novel. Let me tell you why I have fallen in love with the series.
Inspector Gamache is a smart and extremely humane hero. He doesn't have flaws or demons like Robicheaux or Hole, but he does share their extreme sensitivity in crime solving. And unlike those two great detectives, he doesn't resort to violence, or at least he hasn't been forced to yet. What sets him apart is the absolute devotion he receives from his peers and everyone he meets. His squad loves him, the community loves him and even his enemies respect and fear him.
The second feature I love is the setting. the village of Three Pines is quite literally a real life version of Narnia. It's filled with young and old living in cottages nestled in hillsides with one church, a general store and tavern. It is described on several occasions as a village no one finds until they are lost. It is never a destination, but once you've found it you'll never forget it. There's even a rundown mansion of sorts. The villagers are more like a family, in that they get along because they have too. They are rude, cantankerous, funny, diverse, talented and charismatic. There are poets, artists, drunks, gurus, Christians and atheists. In much the same way I felt when I read the Chronicles of Narnia, I find myself engrossed in the community of Three Pines.
Finally Still Life revolves around a baffling murder that takes great police work to solve. The clues are entirely unique and wonderful to discover. The story is top notch.
I liked the narrator a lot. He captures the ambience of Thrre Pines as well as anyone could.
I like listening to Ralph Cosham. Generally, he uses a calm tone and use increased tension and excitement in his voices when needed. For me, his voice makes the novel easy to listen to for 9.5 hours of narration. It is character development and personality quirks that help him to distinguish his voice for each character.
I did not read Book 1 first.. I read three of the novels before reading this story (book 1) and I have three or four more books in the series to go. So far, all the stories have held my interest throughout, however, I would strongly suggest reading this series in order if possible which will help the listener appreciate and fully understand the back stories that are referred to in each story.
What I've found is that Ms. Penny builds each novel upon the previous story in some way. Yes, I have had to "suspend my disbelief" a little too much but I think the stories give me what I am after and that is a good whodunit while transporting me to another place even if its a fantasy/made up place. Three Pines is described so well that I feel that I could find it. Character development is very good, you get to know the reoccurring characters very well.
In addition to the whodunit aspect which has good twists and turns, there are mystical and otherworldly undertones in this little village where everybody knows everybody and it's become a second home for investigator Armand Gamache.
This book was excellent. The depth of characters and setting created a story I became so absorbed in and was glued to. I love when a mystery is so well done, I can't predict the ending. I'm thrilled this is a series and look forward to the rest. The narrator is also perfect for this book, I really loved his performance. I couldn't capture the language as he does, had I tried to read the book rather. Oddly comforting and suspenseful at the same time. Left me hungry for pastry and french bistro!
I both laughed out loud and cried as I listened. I loved it!
As a former police detective, I find the story less contrived, more real than most.The author's use of metaphor is captivating, magical, wonderful! I have the impression that each word was chosen with precision and care. L. Penny leaves me in awe.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Certainly would have liked to listen to it in one sitting but time did not permit. Went back to it every chance I got and then listened to it one more time.
The author certainly captures the environment as well as the insights into the characters. Beautifully done.
It's not the best but not nearly the worst. I liked it enough to get the second in the series, which has already picked up my interest (far faster than Still Life).
Gamache is NO Poirot, that is for sure. But he's still pretty ok. :)
When we find out what's behind the wallpaper in Jane's house
And pretty much anything to do with Three Pines. Those were the most vivid descriptions in the book. Three Pines is what made me come back for the second book in the series.
Nope, aside from the second of this series I'm listening to now. The narrator's voice kind of bugs me.
The interaction between Gamache and the people of this strange little village.
I don't know. It is unique.
When they tear down the wallpaper and find what is under it.
Who are these people -- really?
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