My Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
This is a slow moving mystery but also a very engaging one. It moves so quietly and with key clues coming at just the right times, that this book is impossible to put down. The mystery itself is quite compelling, as it’s unclear as to whether or not this death was an accident. There are a number of red herrings, which quickly tricks the reader into suspecting everyone. I was pleasantly surprised at how much the solution depended on how well the villagers knew one another. Ultimately, Gamache puts all the pieces together himself, but he is still very dependent on what he learns from the people who know one another so well.
I really enjoyed getting to know Chief Inspector Gamache. He reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie’s famous detective Poirot in that both men are set in their ways, excellent at observing people, and determined to follow their instincts. Gamache is a charming man and I enjoyed reading his attempts to interact with the curious townspeople to solve the murder. The other villagers behave exactly the way I expect they would in a quirky small village. Everyone knows everything about everyone and it was remarkable to read about their devastation when a beloved resident is found dead. The singular character I did not enjoy was Agent Yvette Nichol, who gets her first crack at a homicide case with Gamache. I found Nichol to be shockingly idiotic and rude, although she did provide an excellent foil for Gamache. I’m curious to see if she’ll appear in subsequent novels.
Interestingly, I learned a lot about the dynamics between the French and the British living in Canada. I was not aware that there was a long and difficult past between the two groups and that the British often felt oppressed. I hope Penny continues to explore this tension within the rest of this series. With regards to other representation, there was a singular black woman and one gay couple in the village. But that was it. It was great to read about so many women in this story, including working as detectives, coroners, and lawyers. But the amount of diversity could definitely increase. I realize that this story takes place in a small Canadian village, but as it’s fiction, this story could easily better represent the Canadian population. I hope that this improves this series.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Louise Penny had been on my TBR list for such a long time and I’m so glad I finally picked this up. Now is actually a great time to start reading Penny, as she has quite a few books out now that your reading list will be easily filled! This is a very engrossing read and I read almost the entire book in one sitting. I loved it so much, in fact, that I bought the sequel the very next day! I highly recommend this book, especially for fans of Agatha Christie and the television show, Midsomer Murders.
This book is…
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Page Count: 312
Have you read Still Life? What book did you read this weekend?