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)
Well I'm not sure about this series. I loved Book 1 --Still Life--thought it a complex engaging story. I had mixed feelings about book 2 which seemed formulaic and too much like book 1 to be engaging. I already had book 3 in my library so I pushed ahead. The sort of shot gun approach to the story telling makes everyone in the story seem sinister and guilty and in the end it over does. There are so many characters with minor roles or maybe future rolls in new books that it can be confusing and cumbersome keeping it all straight. So very many red herrings and outlandish turns of events that it made me sigh, roll eyes, and almost give up. However, I will say the book continues to evoke the village of Three Pines in Canada south of Montreal beautifully. Makes me want to drive there and stay at the B&B and walk the village green. But, if you ask if I'll read another book in the series--probably not. Lost in the drama of it all.
Louise Penny offers incredible depth to all of her characters, and each book in the Gamache series probes into the characters of Three Pines more and more. Penny's latest book offers a mystery that leaves you guessing until the end when the truth is finally revealed. Incredible writing AND an incredible plot? Awesome.
Wow, was I ever surprised that I liked this book. I normally don't go for the cozy style mystery, but this series is an exception. Louise Penny writes in such a thoughtful way, and describes everyday life in such familiar, endearing terms....Gamache is a great DCI, and his perspective and kindness made me take a hard look at myself. I really love these books. Hopefully, you will as well.
Louise Penny proves with her latest novel that she is no fluke. Three Pines is a wondrous place to visit. It sounds strange to describe a murder mystery as lyrically beautiful.....but she manages it. Give yourself a treat and visit Three Pines.
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!
Yes, with the caveat that there are some over the top histrionics included.
Louise Penny is wonderful. This book is good, but not one of my favorites. Still a great story well told.
Cosham segues from English to French well. I wish he would differentiate the voices a bit more.
To see Gamache and crime scene with Three Pines in Spring time? Of course!
I have become a devotee of these lullingly fascinating mysteries which are about as close to Christie as I have been able to get. Serenity and gentility pervade the stories, and you are drawn into the ideal armchair mystery puzzle. This book, in particular, allows unusual slippage of the masks of prominent characters, including Gamache and the inscrutable Ruth. In my unfortunate fashion of reading series backwards, with most recent first, then the previous, I have knowledge of the outcomes of many of the characters. However, in this book, Gamache, Ruth Zardo and even John Guy Bovoire reveal different and deeper aspects of their inner selves not seen in subsequent books. In fact; some of this book's revelations seem at odds with the newest stories. However, it all makes the Camelot of Three Pines and its inhabitants all the more interesting.
Penny observes the rule of honor for mysteries Christie established and respected; that of providing all the clues to the reader, thus allowing them to fairly match wits with the protagonist to solve the crime. Other authors pull the solution out of a hat, not unlike a rabbit; only then revealing "clues" to which the reader was not privy. This is a telling, not an involvement for the reader.
This was, as all are, a thoroughly enjoyable mental exercise and insight into the minds and lives of Gamache, his team, the Surete politics, and the residents--with a few new and enriching glimpses into the people that drive the books. I always think the marvelous narrator's tone so monotonous it will be dull; but that is never the case; it reflects perfectly Gamache's demeanor.
I enjoyed the story and the reader, but I had real problems following it sometime due to very short pauses between scene changes.
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.
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.
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