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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still Life by Louise Penny

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780312541538
How I Read It: Paperback purchased by me

Synopsis: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods on Thanksgiving morning. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season...

My Review: I was pulled into this book from the first two sentences:

Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round.

Isn't that a great way to start out a murder mystery?

Even though Jane is obviously dead from the very first sentence, I felt that I knew her by the end of the novel, simply from the descriptions of her by other characters as the investigation of her murder takes place. And in the meantime, we're introduced to the cast of characters that will become more central to the Armand Gamache series as it continues.

I read my first Louise Penny book in this series last year, starting with the fifth book without exactly realizing it was a series. Similar to Agatha Christie mysteries, while it can be helpful to understand the characters from previous novels, that was a stand alone and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. However, I decided I wanted to start these from the start, because I loved my first experience so much.

This novel was entirely up to my expectations, which can be pretty rare. I was a little worried that I would be disappointed by it, that this was a case where the author had gotten better over time and earlier works may not have been so great. But I shouldn't have worried, because I absolutely loved this book. I was pulled into this mystery, wishing I was there and that I knew the characters in person. I'm not really a small town kind of gal, I hate the idea of everyone I run into knowing who I am, but these people are just so charming that I absolutely wish I could be a part of their lives!

I don't like to try and figure the mystery out on my own, so I didn't see the end coming at all, and it really made the experience more enjoyable for me. I love just sitting back and watching a story unfold before me - this one did that beautifully. As much as I love summer time, it did make me yearn for the fall when our own leaves will be changing and the weather getting more crisp. And since this is the first of now six books, I feel I have a lot to look forward to as the seasons progress and I have the chance to read further into this series. In fact, it's hard to stop myself from running right out and buying them right now!

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Mystica said...

I just like the title

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

It's a great title, and has double meaning once you've read a bit into the book :) Very lovely!