Still Life by Louise Penny

29 October, 2012

The first volume in the Inspector Gamache series, Louise Penny’s Still Life is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. Winner of the Crime Writers Association’s New Blood Dagger in 2006, Still Life introduces the Chief Inspector at the Sûréte de Québec but also to a part of the world of which I’m unfamiliar, French Canada.

Inspector Armand Gamache is called to Three Pines, a small village in the heart of Quebec when retired local teacher Jane Neal is found dead in the woods. It is the beginning of deer hunting season and it looks as though a stray arrow has found its way into her heart. Three Pines is a sleepy village where everyone knows each other. But soon, Gamache and his deputy Jean-Guy Beauvoir (don’t you just love that name?) begin to sense that not all is as it seems in Three Pines. Jane has recently submitted a piece of artwork to the annual Art Exhibition curated by her friends Clara and Peter Morrow. At the celebratory Thanksgiving dinner that same evening, Jane had also invited her friends over to her house for the first time. But a few days after her artwork was accepted, she is found dead. Was there something about her painting or her house that needed to stay hidden? Can Gamache tease out the murderer in what looks like an inside job?

I initially found Still Life a little slow. But it’s a slow burning book and by the end, I was racing through to find out exactly whodunnit. Armand Gamache is a happily married policeman setting out to do his job and teaching his deputies along the way. Beavoir is his deputy, independant, strong and loyal. And togther with their team, they burrow into the daily lives of the villages, leaving no stone unturned. Three Pines has a mixture of eccentric folk but what they do have in common is their shared history, one which Jane Neal had faithfully rendered onto her painting.

As a city person, I’ve always been fascinated by small town lives ever since reading Anne of Green Gables as a child. The intense friendships, the long histories, even the claustrophobia. As Miss Marple would say, it’s a microcosm of human society everywhere.

There are now eight books in the series and I’m looking forward to catching up starting with the next book in the series, Dead Cold.

And thank you Carl for urging me to read this one and do check out his review. You were right!

I read this as part of R.I.P. VII.

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14 Responses to “Still Life by Louise Penny”

  1. Carl V. Says:

    I’m glad you pushed on through the beginning and found it gripping by the end. It does have some stumbles of a debut book but there is so much there to like, especially with the characters. Gamache and company grew on me quickly as can be attested by the fact that I tore through the first 7 books in fairly rapid-fire order. So happy it was a hit for you. It is funny, the second book was released over here with the title, A Fatal Grace. They are indeed one in the same book. The story in it is actually much more accomplished and by the time you get to the third it is apparent just how skilled a writer Penny is. Enjoy!!! 🙂

  2. Marie Says:

    This one sounds pretty good, and I am definitely going to hunt down a copy as I’m always on the lookout for a new crime series to start.

    • sakura Says:

      I love reading crime series too, especially if the first one shows promise. Then it’s like Christmas when you have a whole lot more to get through.

  3. debbierodgers Says:

    Since Penny’s most recent book has been getting rave reviews, I’ve wanted to start this series as well. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Mystica Says:

    I like the crime series myself and must try to look up this one. Starting at the beginning of course.

  5. Alex Says:

    Over the years I’ve become a real Penny fan and now eagerly await each new novel. She has grown tremendously with succeeding books, especially since number five. If you’ve enjoyed this one you are sure to love the rest, but it’s probably best to read them in order. You’d certainly have difficulty following one strand of the latest book if you hadn’t read the preceding novels.

    • sakura Says:

      I always read mystery series in order, Alex:) I can’t bear to think that I might miss something in the characters’ personal lives! It’s really good to hear that it gets better as the series progress and I’m looking forward to reading them.

  6. winstonsdad Says:

    I enjoyed another from this series but that was a slow start as well I m under the belief there is tv show being made of this series ,all the best stu


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