Monday, December 04, 2017

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life by Louise Penny book cover

Armand Gamache, the Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec, has been called to Three Pines to investigate the death of a beloved retired teacher. Was her death the result of a hunting accident or was there foul play? As Gamache and his team investigate the murder, the small town is brimming with secrets that lead to a surprising discovery.

In Still Life, the debut novel in Louise Penny’s hit crime series, the reader learns that there are in fact two main characters, charming and capable Gamache and the deceivingly peaceful town of Three Pines. The town is so small that is is not included on maps and is only discovered by accident. Many of the well-developed secondary characters simply stumbled upon the town in a time of need and decided to put down roots. Embedded in the mystery are interesting facts about the history of Québec that contribute to the novel’s sense of place.

Fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot are sure to appreciate well-read, charming and deliberate Gamache. He has developed a team of homicide detectives who were all originally considered to be failures, but who trust and serve him without fail. Those detectives and the residents of the town are all so well-drawn that I am certain I would know them if we were to cross paths.

I would recommend beginning with Still Life and reading this engaging series in order. While each book has a mystery that is resolved within its pages, there are multi-book story arcs that will make more sense in chronological order. The first 10 audiobooks are narrated by the late Ralph Cosham, who expertly brought Armand Gamache to life. If you enjoy this series, you might also enjoy P.D. James, Susan Wittig Albert or Agatha Christie.

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