It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees, and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life.
When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil - until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?
Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town, where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.
©2007 Louise Penny; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Arthur Ellis Award-winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot." (Publishers Weekly)
"Gamache is a prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives." (Kirkus Reviews)
The Cruelest Month is my first book by Louise Penny and it is wonderful. The narrator is excellent with outstanding French accent. However, there is a major plot line in this novel that is covered in the first two books. I recommend reading the books in order. I am going back and listen to Still Life and have a wonderful journey with the Chief Inspector Gamache and his team.
Along with Still Life, this is one of the best books of the series. It's telling - of a séance in the old abandoned Hadley House - is reminiscent of a campfire thriller. The ambiance is set from the first moment the story begins, and the mystery soon follows. The pacing is fast and engaging, and best of all it features the fun, quirky, and imperfect characters from Three Pines in abundance. Their artistic sides are spotlighted in new and interesting ways - Clara's newfound success with her painting and her husband's silent jealousy; Ruth's biting and witty sarcasm which we find is informed by a deeply felt humanism, one which she can only express through poetry and her love for animals; the struggle of less talented artists to succeed in a nearly impossible field. The themes of the story are jealousy, the measure of success, and the struggle to find belonging in a competitive world.
I have only 2 mild criticisms: 1. Penny's writing follows a definitive pattern which makes it too easy by Book 3 to guess who the murderer is and anticipate how the mystery will unfold. This is not a tragic shortcoming, however, because the characters of Three Pines and their struggles are as important to the story, if not more so, than the mystery itself. 2. There is a scene in the end which is so entirely implausible and ridiculous that it threatened to ruin the book. I don't want to give it away, so I'll just say that it includes Inspector Gamache gathering the entire community together and airing all of their private business in public without their consent. For a man who is supposed to be the ideal moral compass (ironically making him by far the least interesting character in the entire series) this move exhibited a startling disrespect for the feelings and privacy of the inhabitants of a town which he supposedly loves. This scene should have been handled differently.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book - one of the best in the series. A tip: It's best enjoyed in the dark!
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
The third and most serious Three Pines adventure thus far. Same great writing but in my opinion this addition was missing some of the humorous appeal the first two held, nevertheless, still a wonderful listen.
Inspector Gamache and his team are trying to solve a murder that is being clouded by the fascination and mania that surround bewitchery and superstitions. Chief Inspectors suspicions are brought forward from book two of who may be responsible for the attempt to disgrace and discredit him. He is truly thrown by the lengths of betrayal that ensue for the purpose of revenge against him. Being the consummate professional that he is, Gamache, of course, keeps focus on the task at hand, uses his excellent powers of deduction and wraps it all up.
As always Ralph Cosham does a great job narrating and really brings the essence of Gamache's character to life. Louise Penny did such a beautiful job of describing the weather and foliage of Montreal in the Springtime, she captured the very existence and truly delivered a vision. It is so creative and clever how she finds a way to weave famous quotes into all of her books, it is such a treat. I look forward to enjoying the new characters, Inspector Gamache, and the next Three Pines adventure.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
This is a terrific entry in a terrific series. Louise Penny sort of defies categorization: are they "cozies"? Not exactly! Police procedurals? Well, maybe, kinda.
What they are is irresistible and addictive. There's a wonderful inspector, intriguing characters, a fine sense of place.
The narrator is particularly good. I began with reading the books, but have switched to Audible, as I think the listening is even better! Start at the beginning of the series, and prepare to want to listen to all the others.
When we lived in Montreal in the 70's, we didn't fully appreciate the beauty of Quebec. We didn't understand the cultural and historical significance of the people and places we were around. Now, after reading her books, being reintroduced to that area and feeling such warm and fuzzy closeness to her characters, memories are no longer as hazy. She is an exceptional writer and Cosham is magnificent!! Thanks for introducing her to me, Audible!
i have listened to all her books! if you like detective stories you will like louise penny. she doesn't write them fast enough for me!
I actually bought this one because I couldn't wait for my two monthly credits. I am enjoying these characters very much and I love the town, I want to live in Three Pines.
Cranky old Ruth had me laughing out loud and the other poet, oh my! the poor thing.
You should definitely read these in order as the subplots very subtle and elegant.
I'm going to have to order these in paper versions, as I have with a few other authors I discovered on Audible. I enjoy them that much!
I enjoyed the story and the reader, but I had real problems following it sometime due to very short pauses between scene changes.
Retired "Okie" librarian & happy to have found Audible for good stories & staying in touch with new authors & books.
Another carefully crafted mystery full of observations of life's loves, relationships, & friendships. It has been said that Penny's books follow the seasons. The "cruelest month" is April, & the mystery is set around Easter. This being the third book after "Still Life" set in autumn & "A Fatal Grace" a mystery in winter, I do believe there is a pattern. This is another small illustration of the importance of reading the books inorder. I of course haven't done this yet have enjoyed every book.
The characters grow & develope, they become more complicated & the readers gain wisdom & insight if not weight from the mouthwatering descriptions of food served up in Three Pines. Ham sandwiches on fresh bread, steaming bowls of cafe au lait, & Brie cheese served up with the sub-plots. All this perfectly narrated by Ralph Cosham. I savor each & every Penny mystery as I did Agatha Christie's.
I have purchased over 400 books. I have high standards for writing and content, but indulge in "travel trash" or fairly good entertainment.
I have read three of Louise Penny's books. The more I read the more I enjoy them. I find getting to know the characters and continuing story line adds interest and depth to her stories. I went back and listened to this one again with a much greater appreciation. I am impressed with her character development and penetrating insights into human nature. I don't ever feel as if her writing is superficial or predictable. She does not rely on contrived suspense to capture her audience, but cultivates an interest in the characters. And I must say teases me with her descriptions of cozy fires and good food - I am living in Hawaii and miss it.
My only complaint of the listening experience is that the unusual names, French Canadian, combined with the narrators excellent accent sometimes makes it difficult for me to follow. I guess I am familiar with Tom Dick, and Jane. The Narration is excellent, it is my ears that are not used to French. I could follow the story much better in hard copy, but I do love the narrator and the listening in bed, in the dark. It is such a luxury. So I am fine with listening to a book more than once, or repeating a minute or two.
If you are not interested in exploitive violence, car chases, authors who are thematically trapped, and don't mind being reminded of a cultivated society where people eat croissants, and sit by fires, and drink cognac, then try Louise Penny.
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