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1.0 out of 5 starsDon't throw your Kindle....
Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2018
Like others, I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room at the end. One thing I have learned about Ms. Penny's writing. You have to be willing to travel along the road of total ridiculousness and implausibility if you want to successfully navigate to the end of the book. Sometimes its OK because the overall story line is good. Sometimes (however) I just yell, "WHAT??" a lot. My first yelling event was book 2 or 3 when we were asked to blindly accept that a 12 year old girl gave her Mom excess caffeine so she would have a hot flash, pull off her gloves, touch a metal chair while standing in a puddle and be electrocuted. And you also have to accept that Ms. Penny will go on rants from time to time, sometimes lasting many pages, about things that leave you wondering, "What does this have to do with anything?" And the repetition! Yes we get that Gamache smells of sandalwood and rosewater. And Clara's hair, for heaven's sake. Despite the flaws, I have truly enjoyed some of the books. Loved the one set in Quebec City. Loved the past one with the shoot out at the end. But this was a total head-shaker. Worse than caffeine lady getting electrocuted by a lawn chair. What in the heck was all that nonsense about cosmic gardens, stone bunnies, muses, and asbestos? Sounds like an LSD trip to me. And the ending was so badly written. Peter really died of embarrassment. I really really want to love these books, but Ms. Penny has to meet me half-way. And please do something with Ruth's character other than making her a drunk duck woman. So much could be done with her. So bottom line, skip this one. Move on to the next. Don't throw the Kindle.
1.0 out of 5 starsOh my, this was aggravating to read. **Spoilers**
Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2018
Yikes. I tried to write a review of this right after I read it and found I was much too angry.
I read the first two or three Gamache books and found them quite interesting--certainly enough to read this one. But good golly it's bad -- at least not what I consider good story telling. And filled with artsy-fartsy b.s.
The biggest issue I had was at the end when I, even while rolling my eyes, shouted at Clara "don't go you moron!" Then at Myrna "don't let her go you moron!" And Myrna did, and Clara did, and the consequences were so grave, arguably because Clara had gone. And despite all the guilt that had been flying around the book up to this point, there was no acknowledgement of it whatsoever.
On the other hand, I could be me. But I can't possibly recommend this book.
1.0 out of 5 starsAn extremely frustrating read...skip this one. SPOILER toward the end here
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2018
I have enjoyed the series so far. I was willing to look past the times when it seemed that the author spent too much time on an analysis of spirituality, art or something else. I like spirituality and art - but at times the time spent seemed "off" - like the author was trying to use the novel to teach something rather than advancing the story and deepening the characters. But overall the novels improved from one to the next, her writing getting stronger. I got more attached to Three Pines and to the characters - so that I looked forward to engaging with them again. I always found the character of Peter somewhat annoying and a bit hard to believe. But I got that the author was making an important point through him about what it means to be authentic as an artist, and to love another enough to not feel jealousy at their success. All of that is said to clarify my concern about this novel. It basically feels "wrong". The characters seemed to be not quite themselves. The detectives for the most part tag along - only really taking the lead as professionals at the end. The "evil-doers" aren't fleshed out enough that you care or really understand their motivation. The plot seemed to have some clever parts in retrospect - but was badly executed. And the whole thing was weighed down by way too much focus on Peter's paintings and making unreasonable extrapolations of meaning from them. The ending was terrible. Peter dies...that's fine...it was probably time for his character to move out of the story. (I personally would have preferred his redemption and maturing. Marriage is tough. Working it through would have been a story more in keeping with Three Pines as a mostly-idyllic place and perhaps more aligned with the philosophy and spiritual message I thought the author was going for.) But the way he dies is frustratingly dumb. As others have said - skip this one and go onto the next. Just know that Peter is gone. I am going to wait awhile before reading the next book. I lost some faith in the author at this point. I need time to pass so I can try to re-encounter the characters with a fresh mind and not with the taint of this story on my mind. The book before this one was so strong...I guess one person can only write so many excellent novels. I hope this one was an anomaly.
1.0 out of 5 starsToo much of a not very good thing?
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2017
I started out loving this series, but as I continued to read (and I read all 10 books), my disappointment grew to the point where I considered just dropping the whole enterprise.
The writing is banal and repetitive; I know that some degree of referencing past events is necessary for readers who may have picked up in the middle or not read in order, but not every event of every book needs to be reiterated. Very few of the characters have any arc whatsoever, with the exception of Jean-Guy. And Clara never gets the food out of her hair and is it really necessary to describe Ruth EVERY TIME as the "embittered, drunken, old poet?" The characters in the village are paper cut-outs of human beings, and Penny must have a dictionary of gay cliches that she sticks in the mouth of poor Gabri over and over again. And for the life of me, I do not understand how the people of the village manage to take nearly all of their meals in the bistro. They must have trees of gold out there in the woods.
The complete dispensing of anything remotely resembling police procedure is nothing short of laughable. I have never heard of a police investigation where friends and family just come along for the ride. Penny clearly loves Canada and the beauties of its landscape, so maybe she should cut it out with these "mysteries" and just write a travelogue.
5.0 out of 5 starsA colourful journey I did not want to end.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 7, 2017
This story is wonderfully woven, and also equally wonderfully unwoven as you read further into the book.
Admittedly it's a slow burner, but that's the beauty of it - and that's Louise Penny's style, subtle mysteries that tantalize and tempt the reader with hints and clues slowly revealed here and there, and all without the relentless breakneck pace of so many other crime novels.
For me, the feeling of immersion into the world of artists and painting was something I quite relished, this feeling growing the further I read.
Such are Penny's marvelous delicious descriptions of the travels to find Peter, I really feel as if I've been on a journey with the characters, and this is one journey I would quite happily have stayed on for much longer.
As for the ending, without giving away spoilers I shall just say I was moved to tears and quite honestly did not see it coming at all.
Another brilliant installment in this series - I am one happy Three Pines fan, now that I have recovered from the very touching and sad conclusion to this novel.
5.0 out of 5 starsI love all the Inspector Gamache books
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 2, 2017
I love all the Inspector Gamache books, and although they can all be read as individual novels, you'd be missing a lot to not read them in sequence - this one in particular. I binge read them all last year and became totally immersed in the world of Three Pines and its people. The descriptions of people and place are very immediate and vivid. I would love to see the books made into a series of TV films - I often imagine who I would like to see playing the various parts - especially Armand Gamache, who sounds like such a lovely man. These are not fast-moving cop stories, but rather psychologically challenging, complex stories of human frailty and motivation, they are well written and deeply moving, and the people and their issues feel familiar and relatable. Louise Penny is a very satisfying writer - she covers plot, description and a satisfying personal need for relationship issues to be resolved that make me just want to keep reading her all the time!
3.0 out of 5 starsFor me, this was a disappointment.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2014
I never thought I would struggle through one of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books, I even skipped pages, lots of them, unheard of. I am such a fan of these books, I look forward all year to the next one and this one was my Christmas read. I didn't read any of the reviews deliberately I knew it was going to be great as they all are, I was so disappointed, I couldn't believe it, I thought it was me, not receptive enough, clever enough sensitive enough. I felt let down, not as much I did when I came across a TV film of Still Life with Nathanial Parker cast as Gamache though. Outrageous! I've been trying to think what went wrong for me. The writing is superb, lyrical, sheer poetry in places. I got bored with the endless philosophical discussions regarding the intent of the artist. The relentless repetition of the plight/woes/angst of the struggling painter. I felt that it sometimes came over as a lecture. I know that art and artists feature heavily in all Louise's books and I have enjoyed this element and learned a lot from it. The mystery was there but it was so convoluted that I lost interest. I didn't care if Peter Morrow was found or not and I'm still not a fan of Clara, (I keep trying to be!). Gamache is wonderful and Beauvouir is getting better and better.I am still a HUGE fan of Three Pines and everybody in it, still hope for Clara even. I've fallen in love with Henri, (Gamache's dog) even though he loves Rosa, (Ruth's duck). Maybe, I wonder, was it because the previous book, How The Light Gets In, was such a cracker I was expecting more? I will always rave over these books and recommend them to all, (just read them in order, essential), but this one was not for me.
5.0 out of 5 starsLove it! What an extraordinary book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 28, 2014
I thought that after the humdinger which preceded it, this bok might be one too many. In fact, I nearly didn't buy it as I loved the Gamache series so much, I didn't want to spoil it. How wrong I was. Gamache returns weary, damaged at a depth few people could see, and is depending on the love of Reine Marie and extraordinary place and people of 3 Pines to heal him. Then Clara needs his help, and we embark with Gamache and Beauvoir on a new investigation.
I love this series for the humanity and compassion Louise Penny instils into her novels. she writes with an beautiful economy of words which does not embellish the dreadful with gratuitous violence but nevertheless portrays the horror and evil of a situation. Similarly, we get glimpses of the extraordinary in ordinary lives.
My Reading Group recently read the very first novel. Some were hooked, others thought is a bit slow and samey. All I can say is persevere. The who series is a slow burner. To dismiss the first one is to open a box of treasure and close the lid because all you can see is dull silver. But persevere, and the gold starts to shine through and hidden gems emerge in abundance.
Louise Penny writes often with restraint, sometimes with passion and always with insight, and quiet humour. As you might be able to tell, I love her!
5.0 out of 5 starsAn outstanding, subtle, and thought provoking mystery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2018
This 10th novel in the inspector Gamache represents a change of pace after the previous one, How The Light Gets In. Gamache, now retired and living in Three Pines, is asked by Clara Morrow to help look for her estranged husband. Although the story begins in Three Pines, the investigation will take Gamache, Clara and others a long way from home before the story ends. This is a story about jealousy, art and searching for meaning. Louise Penny explores her themes in a subtle and nuanced way. Gamache is of course, wonderful as are all the familiar characters here. And the descriptions of place are superb, really drawing the reader in. Highly recommended although my top suggestion is to give yourself a treat and read the series in order.