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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache…
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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1) (original 2005; edition 2008)

by Louise Penny

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2,3241642,716 (3.86)571
Member:bogopea
Title:Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1)
Authors:Louise Penny
Info:Minotaur Books (2008), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:My Book Reviews
Rating:*****
Tags:mystery, gamache, novel

Work details

Still Life by Louise Penny (2005)

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» See also 571 mentions

English (159)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (164)
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
A favorite author mentioned these books so I decided to step beyond my own typical fare into a largely unread genre for me. This is well-written, layered with truly interesting characters, setting, and deep understanding of people and motivations. Everything you want in a mystery.

Since this is book one of many in this series, I loved the bits and pieces of backstory we get of our main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I'm sure that as the series goes on the reader gets to discover and explore more of his character. For now we know he's a mentor of sorts for his team, and principled to his own detriment. He's been passed up for promotion but not bitter about it, loves his wife, and is observance personified. He is an incredible listener for what is said, and what is not. He sees what many do not which, of course, are tools of his expert trade.

“Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It's as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. so when I'm observing that's what I'm watching for. The choices people make”

There is a fundamental need for people to be heard - at a customer service desk to complain, as a teacher of young, malleable minds, a wise friend with broad, proverbial shoulders, or a parent to a strong-willed child. Listening. Patience. The hero to storm a building is as important as the mastermind to plot out the best plan of attack. I rather see our Chief Inspector as the seemingly nonchalant, patient observer, listening and planning his next step. What makes him so intriguing is the subtle way he goes about it, reminding me of other great detectives I have read, like Sherlock, Poirot, or Cormoran Strike.

With such a great main character, the story can be in any setting...this one in a cozy and traditional town where everyone knows your name, temperament, quirks, and at times, some secret or two. In a nutshell, the locals of the town own a piece of the puzzle to solve the murder. Isn't that always how it goes? But even with, for lack of a better word...this formula, characters make or break a story. This is where Louise Penny shines and hooks the reader. Its no wonder she's amassed so many awards for her writing.

I was surprised to see genres in mystery: cozy, crime, hard-boiled, detective, whodunit, etc... I much prefer logic-driven "cozy" mysteries above action-fueled thrillers. I'm certainly going to be reading more of this author. ( )
  fueledbycoffee | Nov 30, 2014 |
We open with a dead body, shot by a bow and arrow. Who is the sparrow? And for a short while we are introduced to the people of Three Pines, and guess who is to be the robin. [ a reference to a British nursery song "Who Killed Cock Robin?"] Shortly after that we meet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, his side-kick Jean Guy Beauvoir, the rest of his team and the rookie on it, Yvette Nichol. She’s trying to prove herself, and just like the sidekick in Elizabeth George’s first Inspector Lynley mystery, she has a huge chip on her shoulder, a big mouth, and good brain which she doesn’t use properly. They could be twins. Is it a trope? It irritated me hugely.

The story is both delightful and delightfully written. Three Pines is a quaint town/village where nobody ever really leaves – as if they do, they come back again. There are characters you know and love from your own experience – or wish you knew. There are couples with secrets and old ladies with lies. The characterisation is excellent, with occasional bon mots of wisdom thrown in. I was fascinated by Myrna’s theory of loss – that all our troubles are caused by some type of loss, and most of us recognise that and move on, but some just wallow in it. Inspector Gamache’s observation of the victim’s bereaved dog, following its new carer: an old dog will always lick its owner and wag its tail before it dies. Having written an emotion-filled story that morning, this simple statement moved me to tears, painfully reminding me of lost animals as well as humans.

The denouement is done well – I was right in my selection of the villain some way from the end, but it did not stop my enjoyment of the further red herrings and the eventual realisation of the rest of the protagonists in a thrilling conclusion. Whether it is too obvious I can’t tell, but I think not.

Will I read more of this series – yes, probably, but I’m not in a rush. I docked it a 5th star for a combination of the trope and some irritatingly poor formatting (why don’t these big publishers pay enough attention to the typos in their ebooks?). It was fascinating to learn more about French Canadian culture and politics, too.

I bought this book with real money to fit into my theme in the A to Z Blogging Challenge! ( )
  Jemima_Pett | Nov 11, 2014 |
Substance: The mystery itself was okay. I did not care for the rookie with personality issues; she took up too much space. The Inspector was okay, but not going to become one of my favorites, because of the writer's style. A reasonable display of lif lessons, but rather forced.
Style: Every chapter is a back-stitch; the suspense is faux most of the time. The relationships border on Club Romance. ( )
  librisissimo | Jul 14, 2014 |
I will continue to read about Gamache. ( )
  judgedee | Jun 22, 2014 |
Decent whodunnit set in a picturesque Canadian village, but the author's writing style jarred for me (a debut novel, so perhaps she improves with practice), and I didn't particularly like any of the characters (or that we were invited to sneer at practically every woman except the dead one, on account of their character defects or physical flaws). I'm not a big fan of cosy crime, so perhaps not surprising that I didn't get hooked. ( )
  imyril | Jun 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
The beauty of Louise Penny’s auspicious debut novel, STILL LIFE, is that it’s composed entirely of grace notes, all related to the central mystery of who shot an arrow into the heart of Miss Jane Neal,...
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louise Pennyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggesvik, AstridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kõrgvee, EdeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagano, KiyomiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ram, TitiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruiz Jara, BeatrizTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saint-Germain, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salminen, RaimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stumpf, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werbeck, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is given, along with all my heart, to Michael
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Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.
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She also felt a stirring that suggested she didn't actually like her son. Love, yes. Well, probably. But like?
Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312541538, Paperback)

Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the S?urete du Quebec 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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