Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache #1
Length: 312 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 1, 2005
Recommended for fans of: quirky, cozy mysteries
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté 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.
This is not the type of book I normally reach for, but it was my book club’s pick. I didn’t love it, but it is a promising start to a mystery series.
Three Pines is an odd town. All of the residents we meet are incredibly eccentric. The art and archery crowd. The first chapter introduced the town and its residents in a very overwhelming way, but after the shock of the first chapter, the story started to make more sense.
The writing style was also tricky to get into. Penny writes an omniscient POV, abruptly switching back and forth between characters in a way I’m not used to reading.
Gamache is an intelligent detective, and while we don’t learn much about his personal life, we get enough hints into his past to intrigue readers to stick with the series. This was a really quirky mystery. Parts were a bit slow. There was a mostly incompetent newbie on the force, and I never really understood the point of her character. I successfully predicted the killer, but most members of my book club did not. I’m not sure if I will continue the series, but if you’re looking for a series of cozy Canadian mysteries, this might be the book for you.