Sunday, April 1, 2018

Still Life by Louise Penny

I've had a few disappointing reads lately, but thankfully Louise Penny put a stop to that.  My library has started a new book group, called Another Round Book Group, which meets in a local lovely bar once a month, and we pick books to read based on a monthly theme.  For our first inaugural "read" we had to pick a debut fiction book from an author.  Aha!  I thought. This is my chance to read one of the many new books I've got at home.   Instead, I jumped at the chance to read Still Life.

 I did a little investigating and found that Still Life is Louise Penny's first book. Yahoo!  I've had countless people tell me to read this series, and for years I've nodded, said yes, and then just not read it. Now I had a legitimate reason to start the series. I am so glad I did. 

Also known as the Inspector Gamache series, this novel takes place in the small village of Three Pines, located over the border of the U.S. near Montreal. I have to tell you, I want to live in Three Pines.  Full of small, quaint houses, a B&B run by two partners who know how to cook and entertain, and full of talented artists, it's a hidden gem in the Canadian countryside. It also is home to a murderer.  

Jane Neal, a beloved retired school teacher and secret artist living in Three Pines is found murdered in the woods early one morning. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, an elegant, thoughtful, and intelligent middle-aged man, is called in to investigate, along with his team of investigators. What at first looks like it might be an accident quickly becomes a murder investigation. Jane Neal was killed by someone with a bow and arrow. While the woods are full of hunters during this Thanksgiving weekend, the clues lead to a few dead ends and everyone in the village starts getting worried--who would have wanted to kill Jane?  

As Gamache and his team dig deep, you get to know the residents of Three Pines, and they are all interesting, fully developed characters. As Gamache discovers, the residents of Three Pines aren't to be dismissed as country bumpkins. Intelligent and yes, worldly, those who have settled in Three Pines all have backgrounds that I suspect will be examined more closely in the continuing series. Gamache falls under the spell of this village, and I did, too.  As I've stated before, I'm not a huge mystery reader, but I'm slowly becoming one.  I think for me it's just a matter of finding the type of mystery I enjoy.  I can say without a doubt Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series is already a favorite after just reading one! I've already bought the next in the series, A Fatal Grace; I'm happy to say there are over ten books in this series.  I'll have plenty of delightful reading time this summer to make my way through each mystery that visits Three Pines. 

All I can say is, why isn't this a TV series on Acorn?! I also have to say thank you to everyone over the years who has told me to read Louise Penny. Friends, customers, library patrons have all said how good her mysteries are, and they hit the bullseye.  Now I'll have to tell others to read them, too. I'd say anyone who is looking to try mysteries, this is a good place to start.  Also, if you're looking for something to get Mom or Grandma, this is a great introduction to mysteries or even just the entertaining writing of Louise Penny. Anyone who loves art will also like Still Life.

Ah...thank you April!  This is no April Fool's joke.  I seriously loved Still Life.  I'm so happy I finally "discovered" Louise Penny. 

Rating:  5/6 for a delightful murder mystery.  Yes, that sounds odd, I know. But Louise Penny masterfully brings a small village to life  with three dimensional characters, a puzzling murder, and a pretty clever whodunit. When I read the passage that gave this mystery its title, well, I was just blown away. I can't wait to return to Three Pines, and get to know Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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