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)
While browsing titles, I stumbled across Louise Penny and the Three Pines/Inspector Gamache novels. I was looking for something that was intriguing, but fresh. Decided to give Penny a try after reading a few of the summaries. Lucky for me. This series provides all of the mystery essentials, but is infused with an unusally great sense of fun. Three Pines is peopled with wonderfully drawn complex characters; even the best people in this hidden away village have their dark moments. In The Cruelest Month, Penny wraps up the insidious story within the stories that was introduced in the first of the series and threaded through the second, even as the wise and skillful Inspector is on the job ferreting out murderers. Cosham, as the reader, is top notch! Well done all.
I didn't really expect much when I first started listening, it started out a little slow, but when this story gets going, it's wonderful. I won't say that the who dunnit was a huge mystery, but the motivation behind the murder had a great psychological foundation.
After being so happy with the first two novels in this series, I was disappointed that this one dragged a lot (first three quarters of book basically). It did not have the charm nor pleasantly steady pace of the first two Gamache books. Still, a nice twist at the end means I'll check out the next one in the series. And the narrator is great.
This was my first Louise Penny book but it will not be my last. The author sets the scene beautifully with excellent, artful, subtle descriptions of everything from the Quebec woods to the brie dripping off crisp French bread. The story is intricate but not too complex, the characters have depth and there is also some comic relief and profound philosophy, all in a good mystery. The narrator was well chosen and a pleasure to hear.I will miss his accent till the next time!
Down the rabbit hole into a ring a fire- the magic of words lifts me higher and higher.
The review title is paraphrased from the reading. On my second time through listening it struck me as the perfect description for the entire series to date. I have only listened to the first three in the Inspector Gamache series, and this is my favorite. I don't like scary or gory novels, but suspense is another thing when done well and this book kept me antsy from the first chapter. Tension was added to the comfortable oeuvre that is Three Pines by the insertion of a professional psychic who holds a seance to cleanse the old Hadley house of its evil spirits. Some of our favorite neighbors believe, some don't, but all are shaken from their complaisance when one of their number dies during the attempt.
The narrator, Ralph Cosham, also adds to the tension. Some previous reviews have mentioned that it would be helpful if there had been more space between scene changes or if the reading was faster. I think that most of the complaints were really about being caught off guard in the story, increasing personal discomfort. The scenes shift quickly, not allowing the listener to get their bearings. The narrator is clear and precise in his statements, not dragging, not speeding up, a juggernaut that keeps moving forward into the unknown and unexpected.
Each of the first three novels has personal betrayal at the root of the mystery. The theme is expanded in The Cruelest Month and we see treachery between lovers, family members, friends and colleagues. And the extent of disloyalty ranges from a trivial gesture to sew doubt toa standoff with pistols drawn in the final conflict.
A facet from which that unexpected depth has shone is Louise Penny's ability to talk about spiritual concepts without making them religious claptrap. Very simply, each person has their own belief system and respects each other, no matter what they think of the person's viewpoint. They civilly agree to disagree and listen anyway. I very much liked the use of the New Testament verse, Matthew 10:36, to drive home the depth of the treason. This section is where The Christ tells his disciples to go out and spread the word, but know that there will be trouble. "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." A foreshadowing of the actions of Judas perhaps and bringing us full circle to the Easter celebration? This casual interjection of the New Testament plays perfect counterpoint to the pagan symbols of spring and the foreboding of the changes yet to come for Gamache and his friends in Three Pines. Who would have thought that a couple of baby birds (robins and ducks) and a handful of eggs (chocolate, wood and real) could create such suspense, portend such calamity and make Ruth be nice all in the same story!
I so enjoy spending time with these characters in Three Pines. How I wish I lived there! This mystery has a number of layers and reveals more about CI Gamache's past. It's darker, more serious but still filled with the wit and warmth and lovely literary allusions that make these stories such a delight. Can't wait to listen to #4. I'm missing Ruth and Clara already!
Likes: Cozy mysteries, esp w/cats, books on workings of the brain/autism, not-too-dark fantasy. Dislikes: Animal cruelty, torture scenes.
This is the third Three Pines Mystery by Louise Penny. I must say that I have decided that this is a superior mystery series. The Cruelest Month was my second favorite so far - not as good as book 2, A Fatal Grace, but better than Still Life. These books certainly have faults, and in this one particularly there is some excessive drama - the detective calls everyone together at the crime scene and does this dramatic thing where he says why each of them could have done it. Oh, please! How Hollywood! I find it hard to explain exactly why I like these. I enjoy the characters and the intellectual conversations these people manage to. I like the small town atmosphere. Of course like any book set in a small town as a series continues it gets more difficult to get together a good group of suspects. She at least sticks to one victim to keep the supply available. I also enjoy the descriptions of food, usually from the local bistro. You have to wonder how people who cook these marvels end up at a B&B in the middle of nowhere - however it looks like that gets addressed in book 4. Anyway these are well done audiobooks and I think the narrator does add to the enjoyment.
I truly enjoyed this listen! Cosham's narration is fantastic. Louise Penny does such a lovely job weaving words into description and action. Don't miss this it is perfect!
To be honest, I listened for about 10 minutes but I just could not stay with the story. I like Penny's books, but maybe it was the accent, maybe the narrator, but I just kept drifting off.
I gave up on this book, because I just could not properly understand the reader. The text has a lot of French names and words and it got to be so annoying that I did not finish the book.
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