Monday, January 13, 2014

still life

still life
armand gamache #1
louise penny
minotaur books
published 2006

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, 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 in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book.  I'll admit that I got the book because I loved the cover of The Beautiful Mystery and found out it was part of series so I picked up the first few.  Then I found the Cruisin' the Cozies challenge and I thought these would be perfect, might as well try one.

It is definitely a book that you want to curl up next to a cozy fire and cuddle up with.  It's charming, suspenseful and mysterious.  Usually when you read a mystery or thriller the victim is kind of unknown.  After all, their death is the catalyst for the book.  Without that there is no story so generally that person gets killed right away, before you get a chance to know them or care.  You care about the ones left behind (if it's a good writer), but you're not really invested in the victim.

Jane Neal is killed in the first sentence of the book, although we go back in time a little to the days before her death.  Still we don't get to spend a lot of time with Ms. Neal before she meets her demise.  And yet, by the time the killer in Three Pines is revealed I felt like I knew Jane Neal better than any other character in the book and I mourned her as such.  

Penny writes characters that glow with life on the pages.  And yet they still remain mysterious enough to keep you wondering who isn't true.  And she also writes the people you love to hate.  For me, besides the obvious Yolande Fontaine was Agent Yvette Nichol.  I loathed her.  It was such an interesting addition to the cast of characters.

The mystery itself was gripping.  I didn't know who the killer could be.  Just when I thought it was someone, something would change my mind or prove them innocent.  And there were all these little side stories.  The portraits of a small, close knit community.  I was hooked.

Once again, judging a book by its cover works for me!  


  1. I love Louise Penny and the Armand Gamache series so much. I've read almost all of the books in the series and none of them disappoint! Definitely didn't expect to love a book series where almost all of the characters are pretty unlikable! Great review!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad to hear you like the rest of the series. I hate when the first couple of books are really good and then it kind of falls flat. I've got the next two on my tbr list for the month. I'm excited!

  2. I just read this one a few months ago and loved it too!

    1. Isn't it crazy how there's an author around forever and we miss them somehow and find out we love them? It's like finding buried treasure!


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