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March 7, 2019

The Brutal Telling



The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5
Mystery
2009 Minataur Books
Finished on March 4, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.

No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?

As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.

So far, this is my favorite book in Louise Penny's popular Armand Gamache series. The mysteries continue to improve and impress and this unpredictable installment kept me guessing until the final page. I appreciate that Penny doesn't feel the need for a happy ending with each of her books. Her characters are flawed and fully realized and life isn't always rosy in these character driven stories. The atmospheric tension is almost palpable and I couldn't put the book down. This is a series on which I'm happy to binge!

Interesting Facts:

The painter referenced in this mystery, Emily Carr, is a real person and we share the same birthday. I love her paintings and am surprised I've never heard of her.


Metchosin, 1935 Oil


Yan, Q.C.I, 1912 Oil

Totem Forest, 1930 Oil

Favorite Passages:
In the kitchen Gamache’s German shepherd, Henri, sat up in his bed and cocked his head. He had huge oversized ears which made Gamache think he wasn’t purebred but a cross between a shepherd and a satellite dish.
and 
Not a spoon clinked against a mug, not a creamer was popped, peeled and opened, not a breath. It was as though something else had joined them then. As though silence had taken a seat.
and
What came out surprised them all. A Celtic lament left the bow, left the violin, left the agent. It filled the cabin, filled the rafters. Almost into the corners. The simple tune swirled around them like colors and delicious meals and conversation. And it lodged in their chests. Not their ears, not their heads. But their hearts. Slow, dignified, but buoyant. It was played with confidence. With poise.
Agent Morin had changed. His loose-limbed awkward body contorted perfectly for the violin, as though created and designed for this purpose. To play. To produce this music. His eyes were closed and he looked the way Gamache felt. Filled with joy. Rapture even. Such was the power of this music. This instrument.
and
Their main courses had arrived. A fruit-stuffed Rock Cornish game hen, done on the spit, for Gamache; melted Brie, fresh tomato and basil fettuccine for Lacoste; and a lamb and prune tagine for Beauvoir. A platter of fresh harvested grilled vegetables was also brought to the table.
Gamache's chicken was tender and tasty, delicately flavored with Pommery-style mustard and vermouth.

I think it's time Louise Penny wrote a cookbook! 

16 comments:

  1. I've got to try a Penny book - I have several here so I have no excuse.

    I love the paintings too.

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    1. Kathy, I'm usually a stickler for reading a series in order, but I think you are safe to skip the first or second in this particular series. The author does a good job with the backstory, so I don't think it would hurt, especially since those first couple of books weren't terribly good. Yes, the paintings are lovely. They remind me a little bit of Van Gogh's and Monet's.

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  2. She does very well with describing food, doesn't she? And just describing anything really. I love that she includes other arts in her books - music, art, books, etc. Yes, this series continues to change and it makes one realize that many of our 'friends' in Three Pines have backstories. Everyone comes to Three Pines for a reason....

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    1. Kay, she's a great storyteller! I need to start paying better attention to the information about the art she includes in her books and Google the artists so I can see what their works look like.

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  3. P.S. BURY YOUR DEAD, the next book, is an extra favorite of mine.

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  4. I just finished Kingdom of the Blind #14 and mentioned how I wish I read them in order. I've only read about 5 and do love the characters which often carry over.

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    1. Diane, I'm pretty anal about reading a series in order. I've only read a couple of books out of order by two other authors (Susan Hill and John Sandford) and in do so, I got hooked on their series.

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  5. I don't read murder mysteries because I don't like feeling anxious.
    But I really enjoy character development and interesting writing, like the passages you selected. So maybe I need to give this author a try?
    I love Emily Carr's work! We saw a show in Santa Fe of her paintings, along with Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo. It was fabulous.

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    1. Laurel, this series is fairly tame when it comes to the actual murder mystery. The books aren't quite "cozies," but they certainly aren't as gritty and suspenseful as others I've read by authors such as John Sandford, Harlan Coben, Robert Parker and Cody McFadyen. Now that I know more about Emily Carr, I'll have to keep an eye out for her work in museums and galleries. I would have enjoyed seeing that show in Santa Fe!

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  6. Louise Penny's books sometimes appeal to me, sometimes not so much. This appears to be one I should try.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Mae, I didn't care for her earlier books in the series, but now I'm hooked and eager to read #6.

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  7. I must get back to my Louise Penny reading! I stopped after book 4 so this is next in line for me. I love Emily Carr’s artwork! Did you know she was also an author and wrote a number of books?

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    1. Robin, I'm eager to start in on Bury Your Dead, but I have three other books in progress, so it may be a little while before I return to Three Pines. I had no idea that Emily Carr wrote several books, in addition to creating such beautiful paintings. Have you read any of the books?

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  8. Les, I’m now in the middle of The Brutal Telling. I’d forgotten that she’s such a good writer. Also, I remembered that I read Susan Vreeland’s book about Emily Carr, The Forest Lover. I liked it, and her other books on artists!

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    1. Robin, isn't she a good writer?! Rod is really enjoying her books, too. I'll have to look for The Forest Lover. I'm very curious about Emily Carr.

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