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Stilleven (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

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Terwijl de ochtendmist langzaam optrekt, komen alle huizen in Three Pines tot leven… op één na. De ontdekking van een dode in het bos, in het weekend van Thanksgiving, brengt hoofdinspecteur Armand Gamache van de Sûreté du Quebec naar het afgelegen dorp, waar iedereen elkaar kent en waar niemand zijn deur op slot doet. Het dode lichaam is van Jane Neal, de aardige, ietwat Terwijl de ochtendmist langzaam optrekt, komen alle huizen in Three Pines tot leven… op één na. De ontdekking van een dode in het bos, in het weekend van Thanksgiving, brengt hoofdinspecteur Armand Gamache van de Sûreté du Quebec naar het afgelegen dorp, waar iedereen elkaar kent en waar niemand zijn deur op slot doet. Het dode lichaam is van Jane Neal, de aardige, ietwat excentrieke oud-onderwijzeres. Het lijkt onaannemelijk dat iemand haar heeft willen doden, en al helemaal niet één van de inwoners van Three Pines, een zo rustig dorp dat het niet eens een dorpsagent heeft. En toch weet Gamache dat het kwaad zich ergens achter de keurige tuinhekjes verbergt. Als hij maar goed genoeg observeert zal Three Pines uiteindelijk zijn donkere geheim prijsgeven.


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Terwijl de ochtendmist langzaam optrekt, komen alle huizen in Three Pines tot leven… op één na. De ontdekking van een dode in het bos, in het weekend van Thanksgiving, brengt hoofdinspecteur Armand Gamache van de Sûreté du Quebec naar het afgelegen dorp, waar iedereen elkaar kent en waar niemand zijn deur op slot doet. Het dode lichaam is van Jane Neal, de aardige, ietwat Terwijl de ochtendmist langzaam optrekt, komen alle huizen in Three Pines tot leven… op één na. De ontdekking van een dode in het bos, in het weekend van Thanksgiving, brengt hoofdinspecteur Armand Gamache van de Sûreté du Quebec naar het afgelegen dorp, waar iedereen elkaar kent en waar niemand zijn deur op slot doet. Het dode lichaam is van Jane Neal, de aardige, ietwat excentrieke oud-onderwijzeres. Het lijkt onaannemelijk dat iemand haar heeft willen doden, en al helemaal niet één van de inwoners van Three Pines, een zo rustig dorp dat het niet eens een dorpsagent heeft. En toch weet Gamache dat het kwaad zich ergens achter de keurige tuinhekjes verbergt. Als hij maar goed genoeg observeert zal Three Pines uiteindelijk zijn donkere geheim prijsgeven.

30 review for Stilleven (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carol.

    Middling books are the hardest to review, dontchathink? Maybe it's the recent time change (is there any point to Daylight Savings Time anymore?), maybe it's the fact that I feel like I'm swimming uphill in my nursing clinical trying to get hours in, but Still Life kept putting me to sleep. A blurb (or a review, I forget which) compares her to Agatha Christie, which I suppose could be true, only it's a version of Christie that was being paid by the word and operates only inside people's heads, whi Middling books are the hardest to review, dontchathink? Maybe it's the recent time change (is there any point to Daylight Savings Time anymore?), maybe it's the fact that I feel like I'm swimming uphill in my nursing clinical trying to get hours in, but Still Life kept putting me to sleep. A blurb (or a review, I forget which) compares her to Agatha Christie, which I suppose could be true, only it's a version of Christie that was being paid by the word and operates only inside people's heads, which really isn't Christie at all. Consider Christie's brief character description from Crooked House about Uncle Roger, an emotional gentle giant: “He collided with a screen, said ‘I beg your pardon’ to it in a flustered manner, and went out of the room. It was rather like the exit of a bumble bee and left a noticeable silence behind it.” In Still Life, we get characters musing: "The studio was growing cold and Clara wondered whether Peter, sitting across the hall in his own studio was also cold. He would almost certainly, she thought with a twang of envy, be working too hard to notice. He never seemed to suffer from the uncertainty that could freeze her, leave her stuck and frozen in place. He just kept putting one foot in front of the other, producing his excruciatingly detailed works that sold for thousands in Montreal. It took him months to do each piece, he was so painfully precise and methodical. She'd given him a roller for his birthday one year and told him to paint faster. He didn't seem to appreciate the joke. Perhaps because it wasn't entirely a joke." Goodness, no wonder I kept falling asleep. There is a great deal of telling and hardly any showing. Dialogue is employed when it comes time to discover items of significance or sum up progress. Inspector Gamache, who I liked strictly because his name bears a resemblance to 'ganache,' holds an informal inquest and meets with all the villagers togther, reviewing the circumstances of the death. Later, he convenes with his team, reviewing clues brainstorming solutions. For those who fell asleep earlier, it's a nice chance to catch up. The plot is fine; nothing unusual. It is possibly even a bit predictable--as I've mentioned before, if I can figure out what the mystery is, it must be relatively simple. I did like a development near the end that further fleshed out a character. However, many of the characters were one note: the urbane gay couple that ran a bistro and whose main conversation seemed to be joking about being gay; the petulant, money-grabbing niece; the caustic village witch--I mean 'poet.' There was also a junior detective whose characterization was particularly strange. I thought perhaps she was involved to block a crucial plot point, but I think I was wrong. Overall, I'd have to say the Christie comparison wears thin. It's not that Christie wouldn't have had weak characters, just that in her best works they would have felt a little less farcical. Overall though, it's a nice little study of the small village of Three Pines in Quebec, and of the talented Inspector and his team. A bit too pastoral for my own tastes, it's a bit more like a painting of a haystack at sunset instead of a group of women dancing. To combat the sleepies I started reading from the end, hoping to find a strong finish that would invigorate me (it's kind of like hopscotch, a chapter or two, then flip back further). And while it did, I have no real interest in re-reading. I'll give the next couple a try, because my mom wants to give them a go and because my friends seem to enjoy the series. Of course, your own mileage may vary. Note that it won a first book award or two. Two, two-and-a-half stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    4.5 stars With the encouragement of several of my Goodreads friends, I finally decided to pick up Still Life, a novel I bought 3 years ago. I don’t know why I waited so long to dust it off, especially since it has won multiple awards, but I can tell you it won’t take 3 years for me to read book 2 of what I believe will be a highly enjoyable series. Some readers called this a cozy. I respectfully disagree; I think this story is more in the category of literary mystery. There is so much depth. The s 4.5 stars With the encouragement of several of my Goodreads friends, I finally decided to pick up Still Life, a novel I bought 3 years ago. I don’t know why I waited so long to dust it off, especially since it has won multiple awards, but I can tell you it won’t take 3 years for me to read book 2 of what I believe will be a highly enjoyable series. Some readers called this a cozy. I respectfully disagree; I think this story is more in the category of literary mystery. There is so much depth. The setting is a small village nestled somewhere in Quebec, not terribly far from Montreal. Three Pines is inhabited by a somewhat quirky group of people who have layers upon layers of interpersonal relationships. Having no local detective, the town calls in Chief Inspector Armand Gamache from Montreal when a woman is killed—was it an accident or murder? I have fallen in love with this guy. He is not your usual law enforcement protagonist with demons seeping out of his pores. In fact, he seems very well adjusted and even has a wonderful relationship with his wife (we just get a peek at the latter and I am hoping to see more of Armand’s and his spouse’s marital relationship in future books). Armand is highly intelligent, extremely perceptive, kind and gentle, yet firm and no nonsense when called for. His integrity is impeccable. I also became quite fond of his right hand man, Jean Guy Beauvoir. Overall, characterization is excellent, but not quite strong enough to pull me hook line and sinker into the lives of the villagers, perhaps only because of the sheer number of players. I do feel that Ms. Penny’s writing is such that this will come with later installments as we get to know the townfolk better. The plot is engaging and had me changing my mind right and left regarding whom the baddie was. I never did get it right. I did have to suspend belief just a bit regarding the intricacies of the crime, but this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the journey. I enjoyed this novel more than my usual 4-star reads, but I have a feeling Ms. Perry is going to get better and better. Thus, the round down from 4.5 to 4 stars. Will I continue with the series? Absolutely. Do I recommend Still Life? I sure do—to all readers of crime fiction interested in something a little different and with emphasis on characterization.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Film Review Book Rating: 4.5* of five The Publisher Says: Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells Film Review Book Rating: 4.5* of five The Publisher Says: Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with power, ingenuity, and charm. My Review: Oh, the raptures of a first novel that also inaugurates a mystery series! It's like your first piece of birthday cake as a kid...OMIGOD this is good wait whaddaya mean I gotta wait another whole year to get another one you stink and you're mean *waaahIwantmymommy* But crafty old fifty-plussers like moi wait. We lurk behind the bakery, sniffing the ineffable esters of birthday cakes destined for the inexperienced and the impatient and the indiscriminate, mentally filing away those scents most closely followed by moans and slurps of ecstasy, biding our time and hoarding our book-calories (aka money) to see which annual yumyums consistently produce those sounds and smells. Here it is, ladies and what-all-else, the first birthday cake from Canadian cake-baker Louise Penny, and my GOD was it worth the wait! A friend sent this to me as a Christmas gift. It came after self-same friend raved and jumped up and down and yodeled the praises of the series, featuring Inspector Gamache of the Quebec Surete (I can't help myself, I hear Gestapo jackboots and Euro-sirens every time I see that word) and the odd, off-kilter inhabitants of Three Pines, Quebec. I was practically panting with eagerness to get this package, which when it arrived proved to contain *several* of the Gamache series. Being a good Virgo, I snatched up the first in the series, and applied eyes to page. Steadily. For four hours. I was 2/3 through with the book then, and *forced* myself to put it down because a) I had to walk the dog, b) I had to feed my 91-yr-old aunt, and c) I had to pee. Let's talk about mystery series for a minute. I like them, as readers of past reviews will yawningly recall, because they satisfy my need for order, for the world to work *right* for a change. I think a lot of people feel similarly to me. But a series, iteration upon iteration of similar plots/characters/motivations/dialogue...what makes a well-read consumer of Lit'rachure such as I, and so many fellow Goodreadsers, am/are seek these books out? Comfort? Yes, but... Ease? Yes, but... Quality. Some of the best storytelling going on in literature today happens in mysteries and thrillers. Yeup, you can love or loathe Grisham's writing, but you CANNOT fault, in any way, his eye for a story. You can fairly say it's not to your personal taste, but don't even TRY to say it's "not good." Likewise James Patterson, Stephen King, Iris Johansen, et alii. There is a reason these folks are bestsellers, and it is NOT that the People got no taste. It's that these are storytellers, entertainers, creators of worlds we-the-people want to inhabit if only for a moment. As was Homer, may I remind the snobs. No one thought much about Homer's stuff, except that it was rollicking good fun. Nobody even bothered to write it down for a few centuries *after* writing was invented. Somewhere on the Times bestseller list is the work of the Homer our culture will be remembered for, and it's not likely to be Faulkner. (Horrible thought: What if it's HEMINGWAY?!?) Louise Penny's Three Pines is a place I want to go and stay, eating Gabri's bounteous cooking and flirting with Olivier and lusting from afar at unattainable Peter and gossiping unkindly with Ruth...then settling in for a long, quiet snifter with Gamache and Beauvoir and Clara, to think it all through and come to a reasoned conclusion about life. I am there with these people, these words-on-page creations that have the life only a deep well of talent can water into existence. I believe them. I think you will, too. I offer this moment from very near the end of the book, when Clara realizes who murdered her very best friend: Clara stared at her reflection in the window of {the victim}'s kitchen. A ghostly,frightened woman looked back. Her theory made sense. Ignore it, the voice inside said. It's not your business. Let the police do their work. For God's sake, don't say anything. It was a seductive voice, one that promised peace and calm and the continuation of her beautiful life in Three Pines. To act on what she knew would destroy that life. What if you're wrong? cooed the voice. You'll hurt a lot of people...But Clara knew the voice lied. Had always lied to her. Clara would know and that knowing would eventually destroy her life anyway. If that doesn't make you sprint out to get this book, nothing else I can say will. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Rating: 2.5* of five The Filmmaker Says: When a beloved schoolteacher is found dead, the possibility of murder leaves the quaint town of Three Pines aghast in this crime drama based on the award-winning novel by Louise Penny. The Film at Acorn.tv The Film Review: Well now. I don't know what cause Louise Penny to distance herself from the film made of her first novel, and so far as I am aware, she hasn't been public about the cause of her breach with the filmmakers. The only actor I recognized in the cast was Gamache, played by Nathaniel Parker. I had a dizzy moment or two when I first saw Peter Morrow, playd by one Gabriel Hogan. I was sure as sure could be that it was Henry Rollins with a bad dye-job and after a facelift. Then I wondered if permaybehaps Mr. Hogan was, errrmmm, a product of Rollins' rock-star years...no, born in 1973...so no go.... And do you now see the problem? I was able to trace these arabesques and follow these fancies because I was so very not wrapped up in the film. Parker does a rather blah job as Gamache, the lady who plays Clara is nothing special, we don't so much as hear BOO from Myrna, Gabri and Olivier appear to be acquaintances with a formal past. And then there are the police: Lacoste looks just right and isn't terribly busy onscreen, Jean-Guy is edgeless, but then there's Agent Nicol. She's perfectly cast for attitude, is Susanna Fournier. Manages to be just like Nicol in the book. Whatever the alchemy is that makes a film adaptation great is missing from this one. It's pretty to look at. The actors aren't bloody awful in the roles. The screenplay has the events in order. And at the end of the 88 minutes, I was utterly uninterested in seeing more. Bad, bad sign. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I am a little sad that I can't give Still Life more than 2 stars. It was recommended to me and it's not a pleasant task to trash someone's suggestion, but what can I do, this book was just a barely OK read for me. Still Life is a traditional ("cozy") mystery set in a Canadian village Three Pines. One Sunday morning a body of 76-year old Jane Neal - a long-time resident of the village - is found. At first, it appears that Jane was killed in a hunting accident, but later we find out that quite a fe I am a little sad that I can't give Still Life more than 2 stars. It was recommended to me and it's not a pleasant task to trash someone's suggestion, but what can I do, this book was just a barely OK read for me. Still Life is a traditional ("cozy") mystery set in a Canadian village Three Pines. One Sunday morning a body of 76-year old Jane Neal - a long-time resident of the village - is found. At first, it appears that Jane was killed in a hunting accident, but later we find out that quite a few seemingly ordinary and upstanding villagers have some secrets to hide and maybe reasons to murder the old lady. On a positive side, I enjoyed learning a little about Quebec. I personally never knew that there was a tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada and also a lot of friction between francophones and anglophones. Archery/hunting details were interesting as well. And, the most exciting thing, I could practice my newly acquired basic French skills - I even knew what boulangerie was! As for the rest, the book didn't live up to my expectations. Poor characterization simply killed the story for me. The characters were drawn in a strange way and their back stories were introduced awkwardly. I couldn't understand their motivations and actions. Too often they acted immaturely (Yvette Nichol) or weirdly hysterical (Clara Morrow, Yolande). Dialog was very stilted at times too, often I had no idea what people were talking about and why they found certain things funny. I suppose I should have cut Louise Penny some slack, it was her first novel after all. But the book was rather poorly written even for the first effort. I am surprised Still Life managed to receive so much critical recognition and mainly positive Goodreads ratings. Did the mystery standards go down since Agatha Christie's death? I guess the success of this book is the biggest mystery to me...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This was a pleasure to read. Imagine a detective who is happily married and is not an alcoholic! Discovering Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a pleasure in itself! I really enjoyed the setting, a small town in Quebec, and I became quite attached to several of the characters. They were quirky and a couple verged on going over the top but overall the author held it together. An easy, comfortable read with just a bit of bite to it to keep it interesting. Consider me hooked on the series:)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    "Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back." I’ve seen this book and others in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series pop up so many times in my friends’ reviews and lists. And yet, I hesitated to read it for some time sinc "Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back." I’ve seen this book and others in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series pop up so many times in my friends’ reviews and lists. And yet, I hesitated to read it for some time since I didn’t really consider myself a ‘series reader’ any longer. I felt that if I got hooked on a series, I would get ‘tied down’ and feel like I would have to set aside too many other wonderful books in order to continue with a series. Well, I’ve since become older and wiser, and series are no longer a thing of the past but another delightful option in a world where I can read whatever I want, whenever I choose! I’ve started several series over the past year or two, and have had my eye on this one for some time now thanks to the favorable feedback of many Goodreads’ friends. Having read this first in the series, I have to say I’m in for the long haul! I won’t rush through them, since as I mentioned, there are so many books yet to be read – but I plan to commit fully! The village of Three Pines is so charming – as in the quote above, I believe I am one of those folks who have found it and am hoping to be fortunate enough to find my way back. I’m not sure that Louise Penny intended that for me, but I’m reading into it that way regardless ;) I loved the descriptions of the little town, the surroundings, and the somewhat quirky characters. Sent to investigate the death of a gentle old soul named Jane Neal, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache from the Sûreté du Quebec is respectable, intelligent and a true gentleman. Such an appealing leading man all around. I am eager to learn more about him in the next several books. It seems no one would ever want to deliberately harm Jane – or would they? Inspector Gamache will do what he does best – listen and watch by inserting himself smack dab in the middle of the goings-on – in order to determine if her death was an accident or *gasp* a murder! "Before his eyes the village of Three Pines seemed to slow right down. The insistence of life, the bustle and energy became muffled. The voices dropped, gaits slowed. Gamache sat back and did what he did best. He watched." The cast of characters is quite entertaining, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them – even the not so pleasant ones I would likely sidestep in real life! Jean Guy Beauvoir, Gamache’s second in command, is another I am keen to watch develop further in later installments, and the pair make for a satisfying duo. I loved popping in at the bistro to see what everyone was eating and drinking, visiting the quaint little bookshop – who wouldn’t love that!, getting a glimpse inside some of the resident homes, and traipsing around in the local woods. Louise Penny also touches on some Quebecois culture which I hope she expands upon in later books, as this is an aspect that really appeals to me as well. Despite the idyllic aura of Three Pines, there are some complex relationships and dark secrets that draw the reader further into the intrigue. A well-written and delightful debut, Still Life is one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone that loves a good little mystery set in captivating surroundings with very pleasing characterizations. 4 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Sometimes a memorable read needs to be revisited for a multitude of reasons. Louise Penny lost her husband Michael this year. Her loss was so apparent in her latest offering, The Great Reckoning. As I turned the initial pages of this first book in the series, Still Life, I came upon the Acknowledgements that almost made me weep: "This is for my husband Michael, who has created a life for us full of love and kindness. He allowed me to quit my job, pretend to write, then gave me unstinting praise ev Sometimes a memorable read needs to be revisited for a multitude of reasons. Louise Penny lost her husband Michael this year. Her loss was so apparent in her latest offering, The Great Reckoning. As I turned the initial pages of this first book in the series, Still Life, I came upon the Acknowledgements that almost made me weep: "This is for my husband Michael, who has created a life for us full of love and kindness. He allowed me to quit my job, pretend to write, then gave me unstinting praise even when what I produced was drivel. I've realised that anyone can be a critic but it takes a remarkable person to offer praise. Michael is that person." So you see, more than just words have gone on every page by Louise Penny. Far, far more. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is introduced to us in Still Life as well as the tiny village of Three Pines. When an elderly former teacher has been found dead along a woodsy path, shock reverberates throughout the village. Was this a careless hunting accident or was there something more sinister going on? If so, who could ever have wanted the kindly Jane Neal dead? As you enter into an Armand Gamache book, you will pull back on the reins and slow the pace. Your eyes adjust to finite observations and attention to detail. Gamache's eyes sweep over every gesture, every careless article, and every door ajar. He tunes into every bit of dialogue with the words: "Tell me about it." And each storyline of every book in the series will sharpen your own sensitivities and your own sharpened skills. The truth is hard-hitting in Three Pines. One of their own is responsible in some way for Jane's death. Houses left unlocked at night soon become fortresses. Fear permeates like heavy smoke. Gamache brings along his trusted inspectors. They will soon discover that Three Pines will give up, unwillingly, multi-layered secrets. You will also meet the main characters who weave their way throughout the series.......the heart and the core of Louise Penny's offerings. Still Life begins the journey and is a must read to set the stage. The following books will grow in intensity, subject matter, character development, and heavy-duty crime. The Inspector Gamache Series is certainly not fluff as you will discover. It will expose you to the dastardly deeds at the hands of the respected and the not-so-respected of humanity. Ask any die-hard fan of Louise Penny and they will broadly smile at the mere mention of her name.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

    NO SPOILERS. Her debut, entertaining, well written and deserving of its literary awards. A traditional detective novel, the murder unraveled by careful observation - felt like a breath of fresh air after my normal diet of forensics mysteries. A murder disrupts the peace in Quebec’s heartland where "The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time". A rural setting, quiet pace and lack of gore has some pegging this as a cozy mystery, NO SPOILERS. Her debut, entertaining, well written and deserving of its literary awards. A traditional detective novel, the murder unraveled by careful observation - felt like a breath of fresh air after my normal diet of forensics mysteries. A murder disrupts the peace in Quebec’s heartland where "The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time". A rural setting, quiet pace and lack of gore has some pegging this as a cozy mystery, disagree. On the surface seems just a pleasant story placed in a picturesque artsy community but there's depth. Undercurrents of homophobia, the tension between Anglo & Francophone’s. Atmospheric without being gloomy, nice change from the Canadian novels I’ve read lately. Fascinating characters, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache a standout. What? A detective who’s respectful and loves his wife, brilliant without a drop of arrogance – appealingly flawed, if anything overly compassionate? Refreshing... "He always felt a pang when looking at the hands of the newly dead, imagining all the objects and people those hands had held. The food, the faces, the doorknobs. " Tension provided courtesy of a smug young rookie agent, Yvette Nichol. As her mentor Gamache tries to stem her arrogance by teaching her humility, the power of "I’m sorry, I don’t know, I need help, I was wrong." Plan on reading the next in the series just to see if she smartens up. Loved the role the painting ‘Fair Day’ plays in the mystery. Didn’t figure out the murderer but that’s no surprise, I rarely do. For it’s genre a solid 4.5 stars. And in case you’re wondering if places like this actually exist - the answer is yes:) Cons: Way too many characters and while the majority are well fleshed out a few are ridiculously exaggerated. No one is as superficial as Yolande Fontaine, as smug as Agent Yvette Nichol – couldn’t take either of them seriously. “A fire had been laid and lit, outside the storm moaned and called the leaves from the trees.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4+★ “He always felt a pang when looking at the hands of the newly dead, imagining all the objects and people those hands had held. The food, the faces, the doorknobs. All the gestures they’d made to signal delight or sorrow. And the final gesture, surely, to ward off the blow that would kill. The most poignant were the hands of young people who would never absently brush a lock of gray hair from their own eyes.” Chief Inspector Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec has been called to the woods near the 4+★ “He always felt a pang when looking at the hands of the newly dead, imagining all the objects and people those hands had held. The food, the faces, the doorknobs. All the gestures they’d made to signal delight or sorrow. And the final gesture, surely, to ward off the blow that would kill. The most poignant were the hands of young people who would never absently brush a lock of gray hair from their own eyes.” Chief Inspector Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec has been called to the woods near the small village of Three Pines, where the body of a popular retired schoolteacher has been found. Even at this stage of his career, he’s still surprised by violent death. “Gamache always hoped maybe someone had gotten it wrong, and there was no dead body. But there was no mistaking the increasingly rigid Miss Neal.” Nope. No mistake. I am late to Louise Penny and her inspector’s fan club, but I intend to stay the distance. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the residents of the village – not ignorant hillbillies and not hippie dropouts, but an interesting mix of old-timers and artists. Gamache is bilingual, and the English-speaking residents are surprised to hear him speak English with a House of Lords accent. He’s adaptable, gentlemanly and ingratiating, although he comes down pretty hard on a young agent assigned to assist with the case but who can’t help blurting out her own opinions when asked to keep them to herself. He’s also devoted to his wife with whom he shares everything to get her opinion. I grew very fond of him, as well as the many other characters. I thought I’d lose track, but Penny does such a good job of describing them and their personalities and quirks, that they became distinct individuals. Clara is an artist who often seems to have crumbs stuck to her clothes and is generally a bit eccentric and untidy. In this instance, she was “coming toward them, a duck barrette clinging to a few strands of hair, getting ready for the final flight. This takes place during the winter, cold, sometimes wet and miserable, but the food is wonderful in the local bistro and B&B. The gay couple who run it welcome everyone to the fireside as they come in from their investigations, the perfect cosy mystery setting. Myrna is an enormous black woman who runs the local bookshop and enjoys her food as much as she enjoys her books. She seems generally accepted, but “being black, she knew that singular expression when people saw her as furniture.” I’m not black, but I’m female, and I’ve been in plenty of situations where that’s exactly what it feels like as the men direct their conversations only to each other. ARGH#*! There are also a few teenaged boys who may be implicated, and a father worries “because he knew every parent of a teenage boy fears they’re housing a stranger.” As it turns out, everybody is pretty much under suspicion at one time or another, and I changed my mind more than once about where I thought the clues were leading. At least the fact I’ve waited so long to be introduced to the Chief Inspector means I have another dozen books to read. Plus, this debut has the lowest rating, so they must keep getting better!!

  10. 3 out of 5

    Delee

    In all the years Jean Guy Beauvior had worked with Gamache, through all the murders and mayhem, it never ceased to thrill him, hearing that simple sentence. "Tell me what you know." It signaled the beginning of the hunt. He was the alpha dog. And Chief Inspector Gamache was Master of the Hunt. October -Canadian Thanksgiving weekend- Three Pines, Quebec Victim : Jane Neal, 76 years old, retired school teacher, never married- found dead in the woods not far from her home- cause of death -shot with a In all the years Jean Guy Beauvior had worked with Gamache, through all the murders and mayhem, it never ceased to thrill him, hearing that simple sentence. "Tell me what you know." It signaled the beginning of the hunt. He was the alpha dog. And Chief Inspector Gamache was Master of the Hunt. October -Canadian Thanksgiving weekend- Three Pines, Quebec Victim : Jane Neal, 76 years old, retired school teacher, never married- found dead in the woods not far from her home- cause of death -shot with an arrow...possible hunting accident. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team are called to the normally peaceful village of Three Pines- to investigate the death of Jane Neal. The locals are positive it was an accident- everyone loved Jane, and no one in Three Pines is capable of murder...or are they? Louise Penny's debut, STILL LIFE is the first novel in the Inspector Gamache series- and what a wonderful start it is! It was an ideal book for me to have read coming into holiday season- since it begins during the Thanksgiving weekend and the next in the series "A Fatal Grace" starts during the Christmas holidays. Not as light as a cozy...but not too dark either. Beautiful setting, great characters, and an enjoyable mystery. So put down the snow shovel, get on those flannel P.J.s, grab a warm beverage, cuddle up by the fire...and let STILL LIFE entertain you for an evening or two.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a murder mystery in the category of police procedural. I like to throw in a few of these every once in a while for variety. After all, one does not wish to consider oneself effete for having dined on too rich a diet of purely literary fare, does one? Now that we're in the star bestowal business I thought for a minute about what makes for a good book of this sort. Here’s the list I came up with along with how Still Life did with respect to it. ✓     Interesting characters ✓     Plausible fo This is a murder mystery in the category of police procedural. I like to throw in a few of these every once in a while for variety. After all, one does not wish to consider oneself effete for having dined on too rich a diet of purely literary fare, does one? Now that we're in the star bestowal business I thought for a minute about what makes for a good book of this sort. Here’s the list I came up with along with how Still Life did with respect to it. ✓     Interesting characters ✓     Plausible forensics ✓     Sensible structure to the story ✓     Skill in the uncovering of clues ✓     Details of the setting for added flavor x     Success in avoiding an annoying, witless junior officer who thinks she knows way more than she really does and is terrible at reading people So with the exception of the last criterion, this one does well. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache qualifies as interesting in that wise and avuncular way that inspires confidence. It’s set in Quebec in a French and English speaking town south of Montreal. The local flavor was delicieux. As far as the forensics are concerned, there were some bits involving bowhunting that were out of the ordinary. This was Penny’s first book, but she seemed very polished in the way she set the stage and kept us guessing. As you’ve no doubt already gathered from my list, I did have a problem with one of the characters on the investigative team. She seemed almost willfully obtuse. If the goal was to create conflict to foil the naturally unflappable Inspector Gamache, there had to have been more satisfying ways to do it than through her. Even so, the book has enough charm, intrigue and local color to recommend. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Clara "laughed until she thought she would piddle," and I want to piddle on this book. No to the word "piddle"; no to twee gay couples who sing along to "It's Raining Men"; no to "violent death demanded Earl Grey"; no to murderers who are both telegraphed and chosen out of a hat; no to this smug, precious, suffocatingly cozy mystery.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo George

    Martha Stewart meets Agatha Christie on a very bad hair day. I was recommended this author by a friend who is a great admirer of Ian Rankin and Stieg Larsson, so I was quite excited as I set out. Excitement soon turned to disappointment, followed by a sense of disbelief that writing so bad could be so well received by the reading public. And indeed win a prize, albeit one for novice crime writers. The setting is an idyllic village near Montreal, populated with a cast of caricatures - aging bohemi Martha Stewart meets Agatha Christie on a very bad hair day. I was recommended this author by a friend who is a great admirer of Ian Rankin and Stieg Larsson, so I was quite excited as I set out. Excitement soon turned to disappointment, followed by a sense of disbelief that writing so bad could be so well received by the reading public. And indeed win a prize, albeit one for novice crime writers. The setting is an idyllic village near Montreal, populated with a cast of caricatures - aging bohemian artists, a famous but misanthropic poet, a retired black psychologist, a gay couple who run, guess what, the bistro and bed and breakfast. I could continue. The hero inspector is an intelligent, intuitive and caring man who spends what little free time he has helping his wife stuff partridges with wild rice in the kitchen of his trendy Montreal apartment. His second-in-command is almost indistinguishable from him. By way of contrast we have some rough poor people, and a handful of one dimensional, over the top, emotionally challenged characters. All the nice people run around eating fragrant, freshly baked rolls stuffed with warm brie and black forest ham, while dabbling in solving the murder which has only ever so slightly ruffled the peace and tranquility of their lives. There is an abundance of golden leaves and drifting woodsmoke. The plot is disjointed, the pace is tediously slow, the characters are drawn with strokes so thick you can't make them out, the writing is seldom good and sometimes painfully bad. According to the cover, there was actually an editor. This is a book with very few redeeming features, other than the occasional telling description and flash of humour. Whodunnit? I really didn't care enough to find out.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Carol

    Sign me up.....I'm in, and it looks like the ratings only get better for this popular series going forward!Jane Neal is found dead in the woods, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache leads his troops to the picturesque village of Three Pines to uncover secrets and find a killer. This fun to read crime-mystery has many great characters that I can't wait to get to know better.....Oliver and his partner Gabri are a hoot and newbie smart-mouth Agent Nichol, well, she is something else, and then there's Sign me up.....I'm in, and it looks like the ratings only get better for this popular series going forward!Jane Neal is found dead in the woods, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache leads his troops to the picturesque village of Three Pines to uncover secrets and find a killer. This fun to read crime-mystery has many great characters that I can't wait to get to know better.....Oliver and his partner Gabri are a hoot and newbie smart-mouth Agent Nichol, well, she is something else, and then there's Inspector Gamache's final comment (I'm not telling) that draws you to book two!One down :-) and Ten to Go :-( "Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men"

  15. 5 out of 5

    Iris P

    Still Life My discovery of the charming, picturesque Canadian fictional village of Three Pines comes a few years too late, but I am glad I finally decided to pay a visit. Before reading Still Life I only had a casual idea of what a "cozy murder mystery" was. Once you read this novel however, you can see how that moniker perfectly describes this novel and Mrs. Penny's writing style. The title, Still Life, also describes the idyllic, low-key lifestyle the residents of Three Pines have been accustome Still Life My discovery of the charming, picturesque Canadian fictional village of Three Pines comes a few years too late, but I am glad I finally decided to pay a visit. Before reading Still Life I only had a casual idea of what a "cozy murder mystery" was. Once you read this novel however, you can see how that moniker perfectly describes this novel and Mrs. Penny's writing style. The title, Still Life, also describes the idyllic, low-key lifestyle the residents of Three Pines have been accustomed to. Unfortunately for them their way of life comes to a screeching halt when one of their most beloved citizens is found dead under suspicious circumstances. The victim is Jane Neal, a middle-age retired school teacher. Her body is found in the woods near the village. At the beginning it appears that she was the victim of an unfortunate hunting accident but nobody knows for sure. As a slow pace investigation unravels, we are introduced to Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. In his mid-50's, the Chief Inspector of Homicide has a reputation for being a smart, honest investigator. With one glaring exception, he brings with him a group of experienced detectives who are determined to find out what really happened to Jane. We also get to know a long colorful cast of townsfolk, including Clara and Peter Morrow, both of whom are local artists; Olivier and Gabri are gay partners who own and run a bistro and a bed and breakfast, Myrna Landers is a former psychologist who makes a living selling used books and Ben Hadley, who has been Peter Morrow's close friend for years. I found the paced of the story and the mystery behind it, engaging and entertaining. But mostly what kept my interest was learning about the the idiosyncrasies of the region and the bi-cultural aspect of life in Québec. The quirky references to the differences between French and English culture made for some funny, light-hearted moments. So question for my Goodreads friends, since there are so many books already published on this series, is it necessary to read them in order, or is it okay to skip a few? I would appreciate any recommendations about what book to read next. Finally I should say that it is a breath of fresh air to get to know a character of so much integrity and as straightforward as Inspector Gamache. Overall this was a very entertaining read, I look forward to visiting him and the Three Pines village in the near future.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*

    I finally get the chance to read this series, I've heard nothing but good things about this series. I should have read this a lot sooner than I did. This 1St book in the series was just fabulous. This mystery takes place in Quebec, Canada in a small village called Three Pines. The author describes this place so well that I actually felt that I was there visiting with these odd characters. Three Pines is the place to be! This book is very well written and has won many awards. The mystery starts I finally get the chance to read this series, I've heard nothing but good things about this series. I should have read this a lot sooner than I did. This 1St book in the series was just fabulous. This mystery takes place in Quebec, Canada in a small village called Three Pines. The author describes this place so well that I actually felt that I was there visiting with these odd characters. Three Pines is the place to be! This book is very well written and has won many awards. The mystery starts out with Jane, who was 76 years old and was a school teacher and she was found dead in the woods of Three Pines. She had lived there for 25 years. She was very will liked. Detective. Gamache and his team come to investigate, and find out that she died of a bow and arrow wound. Was this a tragic accident or was she murdered? If she was so loved why was she murdered and who would of done it? I could go on and on about the characters, but there are so many it could take awhile. Gamache and his team are left with so many clues and so many secrets and lies! Jane would have so many visitors but they were not allowed in her living room. Why? Also when she decides to show her painting called Fair Days, and has a party to celebrate she dies the next day. Does the painting have anything to do with why Jane died. Follow Gamache and his team and get to know these odd characters to find out how Jane died. This book was sooo good....I loved every minute of it There's no way to described this book to give it the justice that it deserves. There is so much beauty. in it you really need to read it and I think it will be one of your favorite series. It sure was mine. This book is definitely a must read. It is a page Turner and I have so much passion for this book.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Holly B

    3.5 The first book of 13 in the Armand Gamache series. This book was published in 2005 and there are many things I enjoyed about this character driven novel. Each story in the series takes place in Three Pines, a small Canadian village (which is fictional). There is quite a cast of characters in this one and Inspector Gamache is quite humorous, compassionate, and wise! I look forward to getting to know him better. If you enjoy detective/police procedural series that have a "cozy" feel and are wel 3.5 The first book of 13 in the Armand Gamache series. This book was published in 2005 and there are many things I enjoyed about this character driven novel. Each story in the series takes place in Three Pines, a small Canadian village (which is fictional). There is quite a cast of characters in this one and Inspector Gamache is quite humorous, compassionate, and wise! I look forward to getting to know him better. If you enjoy detective/police procedural series that have a "cozy" feel and are well-written, you may want to give this one a try. I thought it was a bit too long and that it had too many side stories, but still really enjoyed it! I have heard that each book gets better as the series progresses, so unto book two!

  18. 3 out of 5

    Jean

    Quaint, picturesque, charming – that’s Louise Penny’s village of Three Pines in rural Quebec. Still Life, first Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, which was published in 2005, refers not just to a painting, but to the way some people live their lives. Rather than actively pursuing their hopes and dreams, they wait for good things to come to them. Miss Jane Neal was possibly one of those people for much of her life. She fancied herself an artist, although none had ever seen her work. In fact, Quaint, picturesque, charming – that’s Louise Penny’s village of Three Pines in rural Quebec. Still Life, first Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, which was published in 2005, refers not just to a painting, but to the way some people live their lives. Rather than actively pursuing their hopes and dreams, they wait for good things to come to them. Miss Jane Neal was possibly one of those people for much of her life. She fancied herself an artist, although none had ever seen her work. In fact, no one had ever been beyond the kitchen of her home, yet she was well liked, even loved, by many. Finally she is moved to enter one of her works in a juried art show; days later, she is found dead. Her death appears to have been an accident, but could it be murder? If so, who could possibly want this kindly former teacher dead, and why? Enter Chief Inspector Gamache. Since the town has no detective of its own, Gamache is called in from the Surete du Quebec in Montreal. He’s an old hand at investigating suspicious deaths, and he has his top assistant, Jean Guy Beauvoir, with him. Unfortunately, he’s also been assigned a fledgling agent, Yvette Nichol. She has potential; with her brains and powers of observation, she could be an asset to the team one day. Not yet, however. She manages to alienate Gamache, other officers, and townsfolk with her attitude. Gamache settles in and slowly surveys the lay of the land. He gets to know the people and what drives them. He doesn’t seem to be in a rush; rather, he talks to people, and he listens. Then he sits at a table in the B&B and welcomes anyone who has anything to tell him. He bounces ideas off Beauvoir and Jane’s friends, sort of reminiscent of an Agatha Christie style detective. The pace bothered me at first. I was coming off a fast-paced, highly suspenseful book, and this had anything but a whirlwind of activity. The first half was mostly quite sleepy, and I found myself stuck re-reading the same page on multiple occasions. I did appreciate the scenery, the humor, and the depth of character development, however. It felt a bit too casual at times, more like a slice of life than a murder investigation. Yet, I was intrigued. I suspected it had to do with the painting that Jane called Fair Day. Was I right? Even if I guessed right, that is still quite a puzzle to work out. The murderer did not turn out to be whom I hoped it would be, which tells me that I was invested in the story. Did I love it? No. But I was engaged enough to read another one, and I think that says something about Ms. Penny’s writing and about her characters. I will be picking up A Fatal Grace sometime in the not-too-distant future. 3.5 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    What a great book! Perfect for curling up with a cup of tea on a cold day. I would consider this a cozy mystery series and I don't know what took me so long to finally get to this series, as I continue to hear such wonderful things about Louise Penny. (Ok, I avoid series because then I feel obligated to read them all and especially avoid them if the author is still writing them)-- (both are true in this case!) Inspector Armand Gamache is called to quaint little Three Pines outside Montreal-- so t What a great book! Perfect for curling up with a cup of tea on a cold day. I would consider this a cozy mystery series and I don't know what took me so long to finally get to this series, as I continue to hear such wonderful things about Louise Penny. (Ok, I avoid series because then I feel obligated to read them all and especially avoid them if the author is still writing them)-- (both are true in this case!) Inspector Armand Gamache is called to quaint little Three Pines outside Montreal-- so tiny, he has a hard time finding it on the map (which made me chuckle). A murder has occurred in a town with no crime-- an older woman, Jean Neal is shot with an arrow! The book kept moving at a decent pace until we finally discover who did it, and somehow I didn't figure it out. Ms Penny created quite the atmosphere- I could taste the croissants, feel the warmth from the town, and was ready to stay with Gabri & Olivier. Looking forward to the next books in the series and going back to visit Three Pines again soon.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tooter

    3.75 stars - Quite a few reviewers have described this book (and other books by Louise Penny) as a "cozy" mystery. I've always tried to steer clear of any book with that description for fear it would be too "cutesy" and predictable. After this book was recommended to me by a friend I decided to try it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I have 12 of her books and I plan to continue the series until it gets stale...which happens more than not :(

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the small village of Three Pines outside Montréal to investigate the murder of an elderly woman much beloved by the community. Upon his arrival he discovers that nearly everyone he meets could be a suspect, and the investigation is immediately underway. But this isn’t your traditional hard-and-fast crime novel. It’s much cozier and focuses on the lives of the many—and I mean many—villagers that we meet throughout the novel. I enjoyed that the novel broke from Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the small village of Three Pines outside Montréal to investigate the murder of an elderly woman much beloved by the community. Upon his arrival he discovers that nearly everyone he meets could be a suspect, and the investigation is immediately underway. But this isn’t your traditional hard-and-fast crime novel. It’s much cozier and focuses on the lives of the many—and I mean many—villagers that we meet throughout the novel. I enjoyed that the novel broke from the normal constraints of the genre to give us a deeper glimpse into these characters’ lives. The struggle between children and parents or husbands and wives, discussions of race and sexuality, and the ambition of a young detective who’s on the case with Gamache all enrich the story. However, it’s still a 300 page mystery novel that has to deliver on a compelling case and keep you guessing. While it delivered on that, I felt perhaps there were a few too many characters to keep track of; I’d find myself at times stopping to think, “wait, who is Matthew? Or Suzanne? And which one was Myrna again?” since there is an ensemble of at least 15-20 characters that you get introduced to right out of the gate. Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself while reading this and recognize that this is Penny’s debut novel. I’ve heard amazing things about this series and will continue with it, especially when I need a pick-me-up because the tone of this one, though dealing with a murder, was quite wistful and snug.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Brenda

    Chief Inspector Armand Gamache received the call as he and his wife were to leave for a christening – he was soon on his way to Three Pines from his home in Quebec to investigate a murder. Jane Neal was in her seventies, loved by all in the small village – but she was dead in the woods near her home. Was it an accident; or was it murder? As Gamache and his team began their investigation, and came to know the residents of Three Pines, he knew this little village would have an impact on him. But he Chief Inspector Armand Gamache received the call as he and his wife were to leave for a christening – he was soon on his way to Three Pines from his home in Quebec to investigate a murder. Jane Neal was in her seventies, loved by all in the small village – but she was dead in the woods near her home. Was it an accident; or was it murder? As Gamache and his team began their investigation, and came to know the residents of Three Pines, he knew this little village would have an impact on him. But he sensed an evil that wouldn’t be removed until they found the killer… Still Life by Louise Penny is the 1st in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and I really enjoyed it. It was chosen as a book of the month, and the conviction of a friend that I would like it had me picking it up yesterday. So glad I did – and I’ll be continuing the series 😊 Gamache reminded me of Hercule Poirot; his quiet, observing manner, his gentleness unless he needed to be forceful – a great detective is Armand Gamache. Highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I don't want to annoy others who think Louise Penny writes great stuff. OK, she does - for the simple reason she has achieved a high star rating, but she is NOT for me. The ending is SO incredible - (view spoiler)[ Snakes,hoses / rat traps / umpteen people falling down steps with broken bones galore and one strong brave woman standing there triumphant.... (hide spoiler)] I like credible, realistic stories. This is not. The ending was simply the last straw for me. I tried this book in an attempt I don't want to annoy others who think Louise Penny writes great stuff. OK, she does - for the simple reason she has achieved a high star rating, but she is NOT for me. The ending is SO incredible - (view spoiler)[ Snakes,hoses / rat traps / umpteen people falling down steps with broken bones galore and one strong brave woman standing there triumphant.... (hide spoiler)] I like credible, realistic stories. This is not. The ending was simply the last straw for me. I tried this book in an attempt to enjoy a fun cozy mystery. It only confirmed that even a book touted as being rich in character portrayal STILL isn't going to work for me if it isn't credible! This is first and foremost a mystery. Lots of time is spent covering the details of who "did it" and why and how. The chance that the events in this book would happen is minimal. Not only is the ending incredible but also the motive for the crime is feeble. I have learned that I value credibility. Another aspect of this book that annoyed ME, was all the discussion of food. Lots of people love books where every other paragraph reverts to what is being eaten. I have learned to value other aspects of life than food. Why? Because I am a T1 diabetic and food just leads ME to trouble, I am the exception. Many adore books about eating and talking about delicious food. So again, a book for YOU, but NOT me. Go ahead, enjoy it. A fun cozy murder mystery filled with yummy food. Not everything has to be credible for most people......except me. Adam Sims narrated my audiobook. HE did nothing wrong whatsoever so go ahead and choose his narration if you think the book will be good for you! ETA: I am getting braver. Here are more complaints: There is simplistic philosophizing. You know that the criminal accused in the middle of the book will NOT be the right one. Nothing is done with the theme of the French versus English communities in Quebec. Popular themes of bullying and discrimination against gay people and women and Black rights - all covered but only superficially. It is set in a cozy fictive town in Quebec, but nothing is delved into with depth. Does cozy have to mean superficial?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    3.5 stars. This is the first book in the Inspector Gamache series, and I'd heard that the books get better as they go on. That being said, I did quite enjoy this, I just found it to be a little patchy at times. By that I mean some parts were better than others and the whole book felt a bit like a bumpy ride. Jane Neal has been killed. She lived in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Canada. So Inspector Gamache is sent from Quebec with his team to solve the murder. I really enjoyed Louise Penny's 3.5 stars. This is the first book in the Inspector Gamache series, and I'd heard that the books get better as they go on. That being said, I did quite enjoy this, I just found it to be a little patchy at times. By that I mean some parts were better than others and the whole book felt a bit like a bumpy ride. Jane Neal has been killed. She lived in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Canada. So Inspector Gamache is sent from Quebec with his team to solve the murder. I really enjoyed Louise Penny's writing. I found it so easy to imagine each scene in this book, her writing was so strong. Her characters were drawn quite well too, and I imagine each book means the reader gets to know them more. I did not quite get Yvette Nichol. I just could not see what she bought to the story really. Maybe she improves in later books. I hope so. The other members of the team I did like and I am definitely interested in reading more from this series.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This is Louise Penny's debut novel and the first in the Inspector Armand Gamache series. This was a terrific read and in some ways reminds me of Agatha Christie. The characters are well developed and likable ... well not the murderer. The locale is Three Pines, a small rural village south of Montreal and the author description makes it a come alive and a place you would like to live in or at least visit. Jane Neal, 76 years old and a retired school teacher, is found dead in the woods over the Can This is Louise Penny's debut novel and the first in the Inspector Armand Gamache series. This was a terrific read and in some ways reminds me of Agatha Christie. The characters are well developed and likable ... well not the murderer. The locale is Three Pines, a small rural village south of Montreal and the author description makes it a come alive and a place you would like to live in or at least visit. Jane Neal, 76 years old and a retired school teacher, is found dead in the woods over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. She had been shot with an arrow. Surely the victim of a hunting accident. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team are called to investigate the death. Over the course of the investigation we get to meet the residents of this normally quiet little village. Olivier and Gabri; a gay couple who run a bistro and a bed and breakfast, Myrna Landers; a former psychologist who now owns a bookshop, Ruth Zardo; an eccentric poet, Clara Morrow; artist and friend of Jane's, Clara's husband Peter; also an artist. These are just a handful of the wonderful residents of Three Pines. People you wouldn't mind sitting down with at the bistro and enjoying a meal or just a cup of coffee. But not everyone is who they appear to be and the village is not as idyllic as it may outwardly appear. Early in the book Olivier and Gabri are victims of a vicious assault by three boys who mock the pair's sexual orientation. A family is in turmoil. Their 14 year old son is suspected of being one of the boys involved in the assault. He had been a happy boy and a good student. Now he is sullen and rebellious. Could it be because of drugs? And of course the death of Jane Neal was not a hunting accident. She was murdered. Why? What harm could a 76 year old retired school teacher be to anyone? Everyone loved her and had nothing but kind things to say. Inspector Gamache is very patient man. He will meet the residents of Three Pines and get to know them. He and his team will learn who is behind the murder of Jane Neal. Definitely recommend reading this book. Happy to have found another outstanding series and am looking forward to reading A Fatal Grace.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Leonie

    I started reading A Fatal Grace and soon realised that I would be better to go back to the beginning with Louise Penny's first book set in the magical Quebecois village of Three Pines. I'm loving it so far and I'm only up to page 12. A sample: "In the twenty-five years she'd lived in Three Pines she'd never, ever heard of a crime. The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbours from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time." I love the characters so much I want to go to Three I started reading A Fatal Grace and soon realised that I would be better to go back to the beginning with Louise Penny's first book set in the magical Quebecois village of Three Pines. I'm loving it so far and I'm only up to page 12. A sample: "In the twenty-five years she'd lived in Three Pines she'd never, ever heard of a crime. The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbours from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time." I love the characters so much I want to go to Three Pines right now and share a drink and a chat in the bistro - but reading the books is the next best thing. Update some days later: I just had to finish this book so it took priority over washing, shopping and other Saturday chores. My 'home' (Louise Penny never describes a person's dwelling place as a 'house') is still in a mess but I'm now happily back to A Fatal Grace and meeting some new characters. Thankfully in this book the victim deserves her end, unlike the unfortunate Jane in the first book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Still Life is an absolutely delightful read. Louise Penny weaves a complex plot with sure hands, repeatedly provides an interesting sense of place, and develops her characters deftly, patiently, one ingredient at a time. There is a very satisfying blend of action and reflection, and mostly intelligent detective work, set against a beautifully presented background of life in a small artists village in modern Quebec where everyone knows everyone else and one of them is a murderer. One of the inter Still Life is an absolutely delightful read. Louise Penny weaves a complex plot with sure hands, repeatedly provides an interesting sense of place, and develops her characters deftly, patiently, one ingredient at a time. There is a very satisfying blend of action and reflection, and mostly intelligent detective work, set against a beautifully presented background of life in a small artists village in modern Quebec where everyone knows everyone else and one of them is a murderer. One of the interesting characters is the female trainee, a total jerk. Will she reappear in future episodes? This was my first exposure to Penny's series (stimulated by a GR review) and now I am pleased to have the rest of them in front of me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Jane Neal was an eccentric artist. Her mudroom was a museum, her kitchen a shrine. That was as far as anybody was allowed into her home. Even her most dearest friends never made it beyond the kitchen. The status quo would have lingered on forever, if it wasn't for Jane submitting, for the first time in her life, one of her paintings, ' Fair Day', to the Annual Williamsburg Arts Exhibition. It was the only piece of herself that she finally wanted to share with the world. Some judges were horrifie Jane Neal was an eccentric artist. Her mudroom was a museum, her kitchen a shrine. That was as far as anybody was allowed into her home. Even her most dearest friends never made it beyond the kitchen. The status quo would have lingered on forever, if it wasn't for Jane submitting, for the first time in her life, one of her paintings, ' Fair Day', to the Annual Williamsburg Arts Exhibition. It was the only piece of herself that she finally wanted to share with the world. Some judges were horrified, others were delighted. And somewhere in between someone probably got scared. ‘For whatever reason, Fair Day challenges us. It moves us. To anger,’ here Elise acknowledged Irenée, ‘to confusion,’ a brief but meaningful look at Henri who nodded his grizzled head slightly, ‘to …’ a glance at Peter and Clara. ‘Joy,’ said Peter at the very moment Clara said, ‘Sorrow.’ They looked at each other and laughed. ‘Now, I look at it and feel, like Henri, simply confused. The truth is I don’t know whether Fair Day is a brilliant example of naive art, or the pathetic scrawling of a superbly untalented, and delusional, old woman. That’s the tension. And that’s why it must be part of the show. I can guarantee you it’s the one work people will be talking about in the cafes after the vernissage.’Ruth Zardo, a woman who were known to be scarier than a burning building, thought it was hideous. It was suddenly all too clear that Jane did not write a diary. No, she painted her life story, as well as those of the villagers, into canvasses nobody was allowed to ever see. Myrna was saying to Clara. ‘Even the deaths, accidents, funerals, bad crops, even they have a kind of life. She (Jane) made them natural.’Although she was old, Jane was also gentle and kind. And fearless too. When a gay couple were harassed in the small town of Three Pines, south of Québec, Jane not only confronted the three young boys, she also recognized them. The three young assailants fled. One of them, with the orange mask, left behind a laugh so foul it even eclipsed the duck manure they just finished throwing at Olivier and Gabri. However, before Jane Neal could enjoy the triumph of her first exhibition, she was dead. A hunting accident, the sleepy town believed. It would have been accepted as true, if Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec’, with his two assistants, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir and Agent Yvette Nichol, was not summoned to the scene. The town hall was packed when he announced his theory. A silence deader than Jane, ascended onto the gathering. 'Even the coughing stopped, miraculously cured by curiosity.' Comments: Like a good murder mystery, the plot is everything, allowing the dedicated reader of this genre to try and solve the mystery before the detective does. For us it is more than just a story. It is a game. We revel in the sleuths, the puzzle, and the resolution of the case at the end of the book. We simply demand those thrills as readers, yes! Still Life did not fall into the trap of getting bogged down in history or back flashes, or going off on a tangent. These elements were present in the book, but never inspired me to skip-read as with many other books in this genre. What better way of spending a winter's weekend, curled up in front of an old-fashioned fire , enveloped in warm blankets and cocooned in a nest of big fluffy soft cushions! In our quest for more murders, clues and suspicious persons, a first novel, such as Still Life honors the thrilling, joyful experience of classic authors such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Julien Barnes, Eric Ambler, Dorothy Slayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie to name but a few. As a first novel, it was perfect. The plot point was plausible, keeping the action moving, the murder was believable; the culprit was able to commit the crime; the researched was very well done; the ending was unpredictable enough. Of course the addition of unexpected twists to throw us off the scent, was applied, and the detectives themselves got tricked! The gentle, laid-back style worked for me. It was more than a murder mystery. It was a multi-layered tale of human relationships within a warm, close-knit community. Dignity and grace comes to mind. Sometimes we want to be strapped to a chair, gagged and scared to death! Sometimes we just want a good ole inspector Morse, or Hercule Poirot and the all-time famous Sherlock Holmes to entertain us. Nothing beats the combination of good detective work, scientific solutions and the use of plain common sense to grace our imaginations. This multiple-award winning book is one of those. I was mesmerized and thrilled to read it, and ultimately sad to close the book. I loved being part of the Three Pines community. I felt like leaving behind my own friends. And that, in my humble opinion, makes this book a winner in its own right! It is the first book in a series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Icewineanne

    This was an enjoyable start to a mystery series. I don't know of any other writers who set their stories in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, this area of the province is so just beautiful. Inspector Gamache leads the investigation into an artist's death (Jane Neal was found dead in the forest, killed by an old fashioned bow & arrow). Gamache is a no-nonsense kind of man, taking his job seriously (no tormented soul here), but with a keen insight into humanity and a wonderful sense of humour. This was an enjoyable start to a mystery series. I don't know of any other writers who set their stories in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, this area of the province is so just beautiful. Inspector Gamache leads the investigation into an artist's death (Jane Neal was found dead in the forest, killed by an old fashioned bow & arrow). Gamache is a no-nonsense kind of man, taking his job seriously (no tormented soul here), but with a keen insight into humanity and a wonderful sense of humour. It was a nice change from some of the grittier mysteries I've read lately. The characters who live in the village are an eclectic mix of oddballs. Their individual stories are so interesting, I definitely want to follow them in future books. This a perfect book for mystery lovers and fans of the cozy. No worries mystery lovers, the story isn't sickly sweet (unlike many cozies I've read). It has a very good puzzle and the ending surprises. Now i'm off to hunt down the second book in this series, Dead Cold :-)

  30. 3 out of 5

    Janelle

    First off, this is a very beloved author and beloved series and I can see why. I was reminded of when I was a kid enjoying the world of Nancy Drew, and as an adult, enjoying Agatha Christie. Although not as dark as Christie, I had this same nostalgic feeling reading this book. This is a traditional mystery detective story and the best part about it is the characters: their personalities, quirks, and small town vibes. I felt like I was a part of their everyday lives. Louise Penny does a fantastic First off, this is a very beloved author and beloved series and I can see why. I was reminded of when I was a kid enjoying the world of Nancy Drew, and as an adult, enjoying Agatha Christie. Although not as dark as Christie, I had this same nostalgic feeling reading this book. This is a traditional mystery detective story and the best part about it is the characters: their personalities, quirks, and small town vibes. I felt like I was a part of their everyday lives. Louise Penny does a fantastic job shifting the suspicion onto each character and kept me guessing who the killer was until the VERY end!! It was so much fun!! As a word nerd and fan of art in any form, I also appreciated all the literature, writing and art references. I am a stand-alone novel type of girl so I'm usually a hard sell, but each day I couldn't wait to jump back into the world of Three Pines and Inspector Gamache! I’m so happy to have started this series, not only because it’s excellent, but also because of the massive buddy read I joined on Bookstagram. The fifteen of us had so much fun that Lindsay (lindsaysbookreviews.wordpress.com) created a Goodreads group called Penny Pushers. Each month we will read a book in the series and there will be discussion threads for each book. We start book two, A Fatal Grace, in October! I cannot wait!!!

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