Friday, October 8, 2010
Title: The Brutal Telling
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2009
Rating: 3.5 Crowns
Synopsis: Chaos is coming, old son.
With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.
No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?
As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.
My Review: I had no expectations going into this book, not really even an idea of what it was about. I hadn't ever read anything by this author, and I hadn't heard of Armand Gamache in my life. So imagine my surprise at how much I really liked this book, a feeling that started a couple of chapters in and stayed with me the whole time!
Typically when reading a book in a "series", I like to read it in order to get all the details. Luckily, this isn't so much a "series" as it is more like an Agatha Christie character - you may not know everything about them, but you likewise don't need to have read the other books to understand the characters. Which I loved, because Armand Gamache was a charming Chief Inspector who I would be happy to spend more time with going forward.
The setting is the lovely Canadian village of Three Pines, a picturesque little town where unfortunate things seem to happen on a regular basis. While it doesn't go into much detail, the reader understands that dreadful things have happened in Three Pines before, and it's all come back. It's clear from the start that someone in Three Pines had something to do with the murder of the stranger - but who?
We're lead through a cast of very interesting and unique characters, people from all over the world, looking for happiness and solace, who find their way to Three Pines to settle down in the Canadian forest. Poets, artists, bakers, former investors, Czech immigrants - all become suspects in the horrendous murder as they all have something to potentially gain from it as secrets come out.
I'm not one of those readers who has to figure out the mystery before the detectives in the story do, so I was just along for the ride as Chief Inspector Gamache and his team tried to unravel this brutal telling. That being said, like the characters in the book, I was not convinced that the correct conclusion had been reached by the investigators, but also wondered what other ending there could have been. To me, it seems like a lot of murder mysteries in real life are like this - the evidence tells you one thing and is pretty conclusive, yet your heart feels differently.
I think fans of mystery novels will enjoy this book, and I definitely recommend it to people familiar with Louise Penny. I, for one, will be looking for more Armand Gamache to fill my shelves!
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 4:30 PM