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June 6, 2013

Still Life


Still Life by Louise Penny
Armand Gamache Series #1
Mystery
2006 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Reader: Ralph Cosham
Finished on 5/2/13
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)




Publisher’s Blurb:

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 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.

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces – and this series – with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

I’ve been meaning to return to this series for several years. In all, there are now eight books, with the ninth (How the Light Gets In) due out in August. Since it’s been well over six years since I first encountered Louise Penny’s debut novel, I decided to listen to the audio of Still Life to reacquaint myself with the characters before moving on to A Fatal Grace. Looking back on my original review, I see that my initial reaction was a bit more positive than this second encounter. I gave it an 8/10 (very good) rating and wrote:
It took me a few chapters to settle into this debut novel, but once I got a handle on all the various characters (many of whom were possible suspects in the death of Ms. Neal), I couldn’t put it down, anxious to get back to my reading and trying to solve the crime as I went about my daily activities.

Still Life is not a hard-boiled thriller, but rather a gentle “drawing room” mystery in which the chief investigator relishes a warm café au lait and flaky croissant as he ponders the details of the crime, while enjoying the peacefulness of the village as dawn breaks.

Gamache is a likeable character, reminding me a little bit of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport (although, not quite the womanizer and much more well-read). I have a feeling Gamache and Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir will become another favorite duo and I look forward to Penny’s next installment (Dead Cold), due out next spring.
Final Thoughts:

I have a couple of books that I’m anxious to read in the next few weeks, but I won’t let much more time elapse before I pick up A Fatal Grace (aka Dead Cold). I’m eager to see why this series has become so popular among mystery lovers.

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s mysteries? Which is your favorite?

14 comments:

  1. Haven't read this one, which I believe is one of her earlier books. I do like this author though.

    Hope you are having a great week Les.

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    1. It's the first in the series, Diane. I'm anxious to get to #2!

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  2. My favorite is always the last one I read. For me, the series gets better and better. I recently listening to the first 3 books in preparation for #9 coming out in August.

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    1. That's how I feel about Tana French's books, Kay. The last one read is always my favorite. I'm glad to know that this series gets better and better. I plan to read the print version of #2 since it's been in my stack for years!

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  3. I really want to try one of Penny's books - I keep hearing great things about them.

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    1. She has quite a following, Kathy. I'm surprised you haven't read her yet.

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  4. I've read one and two...loved them both!!! I think I will continue with the written word and not go audio for this series!

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    1. Oh, I'm glad to know you loved #2. I shouldn't keep putting it off, especially now that I've "read" the first twice!

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  5. They have made a movie of the first one. I'm not too happy with the "star" since I don't think he fits the part. But time will tell. He was Inspector Lynley in another series of Elizabeth George's books, and I didn't think he fit that part either! So maybe it'[s just me.................

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    1. I'll have to look for the movie on Netflix, Mom. Thanks for the reminder!

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  6. I loved this book and I think Inspector Gamache is a wonderful character but I've not enjoyed the most recent books as much. I will probably continue with the series though because I do like a lot of the main characters.

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    1. Oh, dear. I'm sorry her more recent books haven't thrilled you as much as her earlier works. I think I felt that way about Jacqueline Winspear's series...

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  7. I'm up-to-date on this series and have enjoyed it, but I do not think it is fantastic like many of her fans. I do think Penny is a delightful person (from reading her blog) and hope her latest will thrill me. :) I looked at all my ratings and discovered that I rated #3 and #4 the highest at 4.25/5. Enjoy!

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    1. I wonder how I'll like the rest of the series. I have a feeling my reaction will be like the one I've had with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books. I enjoy them while I'm listening, but I don't fall in love with them like so many of her fans. We shall see. :)

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