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Publisher's Summary

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat. 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.

Critic Reviews

"Many mystery buffs have credited Louise Penny with the revival of the type of traditional murder mystery made famous by Agatha Christie.... The book's title is a metaphor not only for the month of April but also for Gamache's personal and professional challenges - making this the series standout so far." (Sarah Weinman)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • Saint Louis, MO, United States
  • 09-02-16

This one made be the best of the series so far !

I love the way the author fleshed out the characters in this third book. she also tied up some loose ends related to the notorious Arnot subplot. 3 Pines is a place that I would love to visit again!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Very enjoyable!

Engaging story and excellent narration. This series is one of my favorites. The characters are like old friends!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 09-24-15

Gentle, Thoughtful, Thorough Inspector Gamache

The Cruelest Month, the third in the series, was just as satisfying as the first two . . . maybe more so . . . as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache faces down evil in the old Hadley House in Three Pines, Quebec . . . familiar friends and townsfolk from Three Pines return, artists Peter and Clara, poet Ruth, and former psychologist turned bookstore owner, Myrna . . . as Gamache and his team work to solve the murder, it becomes more and more evident that he has a Judas on his own team . . . waiting to betray him . . . as the case comes closer and closer to resolution, Gamache deals with ever increasing personal attacks, (which go back to a former case, where he exposed the corruption of a fellow department officer) . . . keeping a cool head and vigilant, determination to listen, and seek truth . . . he manages to maneuver his way through the quagmire . . .references to Matthew 10:36 and other subtle biblical quotes . . . meeting God at the door . . . are peppered through Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache books . . . so are things like new age beliefs, seances, and other fleeting trends . . . you are left to suss out what is steadfast . . . what is true . . . what is good . . . I like that . . .

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Reread this book!

There are few books worth rereading (the world has so many good books). But this novel has many levels. You might miss some in a rush to finish reading to understand the "story ". If you take the time to read again you will find delightful characters as well as an engrossing mystery. And ideas. And love that people have for one another. Take the time!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sakjack
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 08-07-16

lyrical and sad

There are two stories within this novel. the murder is secondary to the continued unfolding of the back story of Armand being made to pay for turning in dirty fellow officers. Both show how love can become twisted into jealousy and acts of hatred but Armand's story so much the sadder. I was somber after listening. Yet this novel includes many moments of poetry and beautiful prose.

The narrator is excellent as Armand but sometimes not as strong in distinguishing other voices as I think he's been in prior novels in this series.

well worth the listen . But be prepared for deep melancholy.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Best modern mystery series bar none!

A thoughtful, articulate, literate and engrossing series. Each book can stand alone but I love how the characters get fleshed out from book to book. Absolutely love the stories and the narration. 5 stars all around.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Another excellent mystery in the series

First of all, Ralph Cosham is superb. He has a pleasing voice and brings the characters to life. I want to move to Three Pines,just as soon as they get those nasty murders taken care of and I want to be a friend to all the people who live there. These stories are so well written that you can get involved in the story line as well as with the richly fleshed out characters. I'm so glad there are many more in this series.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 05-29-17

An April murder in Three Pines?

First released in 2007 The Cruelest Month (April) seems like it from the distant past because John Guy is not yet Chief Inspector of Sûreté du Québec Armand Gamache's son-in-law and Armand and Reine-Marie do not yet live in Three Pines, Three Pines is a tiny village in Quebec just a few miles from the US border; it is a very unlikely location for a murder, especially one by an overdose of a diet drug. Canadian writer Louise Penny is one of my favorite authors of modern detective novels. This novel is one of her best. This audio book was republished in 2015 without changes. The great British/American actor and narrator Ralph Cosham, who died one year before the re-release, narrates superbly, as always.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly deep

Lots of literary references, and allusions to spirituality that seem very genuine. The wholesome, intellectual setting of Three Pines is pretty irresistible. I love French food and wine...I guess I'll have to try Scotch now! These novels are evocative of place in the way James Lee Burke conjures LA and TX. And maybe unlike Burke, they are mostly soothing to listen to. If you have ever worked a homicide case, you will certainly have to put aside your training and experience and listen to the investigative parts of the book simply to understand what Penny is creating with that text. That is easy with some practice.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Love love love.

So if your new to Penny's books I suggest that you start at the beginning. These characters have become such good friends and Three Pines is my place to visit when a break is needed!! Great reading or listening! Highly recommend. I've listened to all and now re-listening until the new one comes out in November.