Sunday, April 30, 2017

Powerful Insights

Still Life: 
A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel 

Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

“Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It's as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. so when I'm observing that's what I'm watching for. The choices people make”  ― Louise Penny, Still Life

Both my sister and a good friend recommended that I read the mysteries of Louise Penny; so I decided to start with her first Chief Inspector Gamache novel. I was not disappointed.

The mystery is set in a small town in rural Canada.  The narrative introduces Armand Gamache of the Sorete du Quebec. The mystery proper begins with the discovery of the body of Jane Neal, a middle-aged artist, near a woodland trail used by deer hunters outside the village of Three Pines. Upon first investigation it appears she was the victim of a hunting accident. Soon Gamache, an appealingly competent senior homicide investigator, is summoned. He is able to determine that this was not an accident but the woman was most likely murdered. The narrative continues as clues are slowly uncovered while the residents of Three Pines are introduced. Some of them come under suspicion while the suspense builds with each piece of new evidence.

I enjoyed the author's development of a variation on the theme of the clue hidden in plain sight. She also introduces the bilingual, bi-cultural aspect of Quebecois life as well as arcane aspects of archery and art to deepen her narrative. Most of all there are memorable characters whose relationships make the mystery more compelling as they and their interrelationships are gradually revealed.

This is a mystery filled with intriguing insights that develops a good foundation for further exploits of Armand Gamache. I would recommend this author's first novel, which was the runner-up for the CWA's Debut Dagger Award in 2004, to all readers who enjoy a good mystery.


Brian Joseph said...

I really need to give this genre a try. My wife reads a lot of books of this type and I will mention this one to her. I really like the opening quote. There is a lot of truth to it.

James said...

Thanks for your comment. Both my sister and friend rate Louise Penny as one of their favorite mystery authors. As an infrequent reader of the genre I would agree that she is excellent. Other mystery writers I would recommend include P. D. James, Michael Connelly, Frank Tallis, and Boris Akunin.