Well, folks, we’ve just made it through the cruellest month, safely into May…yes, the cruel one is April, because anything can happen weather-wise, and sweet young plants that have just bravely burst through the soil often get snuffed out. In Three Pines it’s in any month, really that people get snuffed out, and regularly are. In this one someone dies of fright at a séance at the Old Hadley House! As always, Penny delivers a cozy, comfy, and cruel tale in this third instalment, and I think the series is getting better as it goes along.
Louise Penny is a literary mystery writer, although I don’t know what I exactly mean by that–some mysteries are fun but just not that well written, while others seem to be a cut above. I guess it’s because her turn of phrase is beautiful, the book is not merely plot driven, and there is some existential wisdom to be learned along the way. Gamache continues to be his same elegant, kind, and unflappable self, especially in this one because he himself is under attack. There is a cruel undercover plan to discredit and unseat him from the Surété du Québec so he will have to face some of his own ghosts as well.
Finally getting around to this popular Canadian series that has worldwide recognition. What a great introduction to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and the residents of Three Pines. Watching him enter the small town and sift through the dark secrets and murder clues, was just the thing for these cold January evenings. Crime fiction often comes in series, and getting to know the detective who solves the mysteries is a big part of the attraction. There’s always lots of details floating about with the reader unsure about which facts and theories are important and which are not, but in the end it doesn’t really matter, because you can depend on the trusty Inspector to sort it all out in the end. There’s a grand comfort in that.
Louise Penny offers a nice balance of action and reflection, making this feel ‘more than’ the usual whodunit. Her work has been paralleled with British whodunits which tend to have (according to wiki) “murders by unconventional means, bucolic villages, large casts of suspects, red herrings, and a dramatic disclosure of the murderer in the last few pages of the book.” Loved the Canadian setting outside of Montreal (just like Kathy Reichs’ Bones series; if you liked that, you’ll love this) and looking forward to more from this author–since I bought the three book starter set at Costco, the next two instalments are likely imminent! Judging by the reviews, future instalments keep getting better and better. And after all, it’s still going to be cold and dark for awhile yet…
There is a movie based on Still Life. It’s available on youtube.