Chief Inspector Gamache series

Still Life by Louise Penny

Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot will delight in discovering Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Quebec in this truly thought provoking mystery.  The setting is the peaceful village of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border.  It won’t take but a few pages to get hooked on Louise Penny’s tale of the murder of a beloved local artist.

The peaceful community is rocked to its core when a local woman’s body turns up in the woods, apparently killed by a hunter’s bow.  The townsfolk are sure it’s an unfortunate accident – after all, who would possibly want to kill such a giving and unassuming woman who would never so much as hurt a fly?  But Inspector Gamache and his team are not so sure.

Ms. Penny has given us a truly unique and extremely smart sleuth, providing us with every thought, every deduction and every scenario that methodically flows through the inspector’s mind.  Like Holmes and Poirot, he’s a quiet and charismatic genius when it comes to solving the seemingly unsolvable.  The portrayal of Ms. Penny’s characters in Still Life is so detailed you begin to feel like you’ve been transported into Three Pines and before you know it, they become “your” neighbors and friends.

But if you did live in Three Pines, you might start to notice (just like the inspector), that in this tranquil village there lies dangerous undercurrents – like silent riptides, moving quietly and swiftly pulling hapless swimmers to the ocean floor.

And so it is: everyone in the village becomes a suspect.  It’s hard to imagine any of the local residents murdering one of their own, but it happens.  Even her dearest friends, Clara and Ruth will not be spared Gamache’s subtle scrutiny.

The motive is elusive.  Perhaps the victim’s greedy niece had done her in – money being the root of all evil.  Perhaps the murder had something to do with the artist’s painting that she was about to unveil at an art showing.  Perhaps she knew too much about someone in the village. Perhaps there’s a reason Gamache and his team haven’t been able to come up with – yet.

It’s no surprise that Louise Penny is a New York Times Bestselling author.  Still Life was the “first” in The Chief Inspector Gamache series and a solid winner.  While this book came out in 2005, it is still readily available.  I’ve always said a good book will stand the test of time – this is one of them!  For those of you who enjoy getting into the mind of a quietly cagey inspector, this series will have you following in Gamache’s footsteps with magnifying glass in hand!

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