Still Life and the Chief Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penny

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I’ll be brief because I know Still Life is not new news: I’m late to this party and I feel like I’ve only just started my journey with Louise Penny in to Three Pines and beyond, but I just had to share my delight with this book and my excitement to read the rest of this series!  This might be the first murder mystery that has prompted me to use the word “cozy” when describing it to my friends.  This was a great whodunnit without a lot of disturbing gore or horror added in to the mix which seems to have been just enough of a mystery for me mixed with homey vibes to keep me coming back for more – I’ve now committed to reading the entire series which is 13 books (so far!) so no small feat.  Join me, won’t you?

Title: Still Life

Author: Louise Penny

Synopsis, via 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.

My Review: 

To me, Still Life was part murder mystery and part character study of an entire town.  I found myself hooked not only to figure out who murdered Jane Neal but also to keep learning more about each and every character (except for Nichol – what is up with her??) that we came across in Three Pines.  In this way it was the start to a series that I’m sure will just get more in depth as the installments continue.

Three Pines has a Stars Hollow-esque vibe, in my humble opinion (#Gilmoregirlsfanforlife) in that it is quirky, homey, extremely intrusive and just so small town that you know it just has to be too good to be true (again, I’m saying this about a murder mystery, what is wrong with me?!!).  Set in the fall, in this small town near Quebec, Canada I was instantly transported to this charming new locale every time I jumped back in to the story.

Inspector Gamache was the perfect narrator for this investigation, his detective skills and keen insight in to human nature and his nonjudgmental, patient way of dealing with people he meets makes his observations and narration the best way to get to know the village of Three Pines and play along in this town-wide game of Clue.

You should know: there are 2 things that probably led to my complete enjoyment of this novel

  1. I read this as part of a giant group buddy read over Instagram and I had SO MUCH FUN with the ladies in this group.  We broke it up by chapters and we were able to enjoy spoiler-free commentary throughout the whole book which was so pleasant and fun, but the best part was just getting to know these ladies beyond the book.  I We all enjoyed the group read so much that we decided to keep the fun going and open it up to anyone interested.  A book club on Goodreads has been started, we call ourselves the Penny Pushers and there is still plenty of time to catch up with us since we plan on reading one book a month until we finish the series, so this will be going until October 2018!  I am so happy to have a Louise Penny book to look forward to each month for the next year.  Please consider this my invitation to you to join us if you’d like, there is plenty of time to read Still Life and catch up with us, so please #meetmeinthreepines
  2. I actually listened to the audio version of this book and I think I enjoyed it more that way.  One reason is because I have absolutely no experience with French and given that this book is set in Quebec there are quite a few French words and pronunciations that I would have just butchered in my head, listening to the narrator flawlessly rattle them off was a joy and I think part of the reason that this book transported me so fully to this small town.  Another reason is because I became aware of this buddy read a little late in the game and the audio version of this, the first book in the series, was free on Hoopla (and still is!) so it was easy for me to jump in and join in on the fun.  It was also my first experience with Hoopla and I am so glad I discovered it.  If you have access to this resource through your local library I highly recommend checking it out. I plan to continue the series via audiobook.

To sum up: I’m smitten!

 

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Where are all my Louise Penny fans at?  Which one is your favorite book, so far? What else do you love about this series and Three Pines? Who wants to join the Penny Pushers?

 

 

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