Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny (Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

Still Life by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Minotaur Books

Summary:   Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the SΓ»retΓ© du QuΓ©bec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of MontrΓ©al 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.

This is one of those book series that I always hear about but hadn't got around to trying yet (there are lots of books in the world). But sometimes things push me to get to a book sooner and as it happens, I noticed that my local PBS was going to be airing a dramatisation of Still Life and since I wanted to watch, I needed to read the book first. And so I did. It was a very good first book in a series. There was enough wit to make me smile along the way and the characters who peopled Three Pines were exactly the sort I could spend more time with.

At first I wondered whether all the book take place in Three Pines as Gamache travels to the bucolic locale and I look forward to finding out. As a reader of cozy mysteries and Midsomer Murders, I know body counts & crafty murderers can run rampant in these lovely little places so if Gamache is just in on a crime wave or he has to travel to other places around Montreal, I'm looking forward to read about his cases.

They mystery here was well done but seemed on par with the laying out of the place and characters. Foibles and quirks are well on display for the characters, some more endearing than others. I can't believe I'm saying this but I may have enjoyed the setting more than anything else. I liked very much how clear and lovely a picture Penny painted (pun intended) of Three Pines. Also, as engaging as I found Gamache, I was most drawn to Nichols. I'm pulling for her and her brusque nature. I don't know if it was intended that a reader is to like and root for her, but I am. I'm expecting she'll pop up again and will benefit from working with Gamache on another case.

I'll continue with the series & do recommend it to any of the five people in North America who haven't read it yet (I'm really late to the party on this one).

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