Book Review: Still Life

 

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I finally read it! You can stop telling me to now!

“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. ” – Publishers description

Louise Penny is a sorceress. I don’t know how she does it, but everyone in my library has been recommending this series to me for the past four years. She has this unbelieveable pull on readers and I never understood it. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading this, it all makes sense. She’s a great author.

That’s it really. She’s a solid author who thinks through her plots, makes excellent and interesting side characters and has constructed a compelling detective in Inspector Gamache. There’s no secret to this series, the books are just really good!

I won’t give much away here, because most of the fun I had with this book was following the twists and turns and the odd, quirky assembly of small town characters. She creates characters you actually care about, so when the twists come they actually have weight. Inspector Gamache is a weirdly intellectual hunk, and I instantly loved him. He’s not a gruff, semi-asshole detective with a personal life in tatters. Instead, Gamache is thoughtful and introspective while also valuing teamwork and compassion. He has a fantastic relationship with his wife. He has friends! This is very refreshing when compared to the hard-boiled, tough guy detectives that are so popular in fiction.

The mystery in this book genuinely got me, which is hard to do. I guessed the murderer near the end, but then Penny crafted an excellent twist that had me second guessing myself. This book really a diamond in the rough for librarians. I can already see myself recommending this to everyone who is in need of a good read. It’s a clean read, a solid mystery, an interesting location, a cast of fun characters and relatively non-violent. This covers so many bases for readers, and I am so thrilled that a friend finally convinced me to read it. I’ll be reading the whole series from here on out!

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Format: Paperback
Pages: 312
ISBN:  9781250000644

Three descriptions: Character-driven; Intricately plotted; Atmospheric

Read-Alikes:
Flavia De Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley
Thomas Lynley mysteries  by Elizabeth George
Reverend Clare Fergusson mysteries  Spencer-Fleming, Julia
John Cardinal series by  Giles Blunt

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