Still Life by Louise Penny

In this traditional mystery, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team are called to investigate a suspicious death in the small rural village of Three Pines. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of the town who seems to have been loved by everyone, is found dead in the woods. Although her friends and neighbors hope it is a tragic accident, Gamache believes otherwise.

The strength of this book for me was the characters. The town is populated by an interesting group of people  who are fully-developed, with hurts and disappointments, loves and dreams. In a lot of ways, they are examples of people we meet everyday, people who may very well have secrets behind their own doors.

Jane herself is a wonderful character, integral to the story even though we never meet her alive. She lives on in the stories her friends tell, the way her dog mourns,  and in her paintings, one of which has been accepted into a local art show.

The title is a reference to that painting, but it also refers to a type of person, one who leads a “still” life, not changing, not growing, just waiting for someone to save them or protect them from the world. As one of the characters tells Inspector Gamache,  “the thing is no one else can save them because the problem is theirs and so is the solution.”

Gamache is the star of the book, someone you can trust and believe in. He is an ethical, hard-working detective. He is observant, witty, insightful, intelligent.

No. His little secret was that in his mid-fifties, at the height of a long and now apparently stalled career, violent death still surprised him. Which was odd, for the head of homicide, and perhaps one of the reasons he hadn’t progressed further in the cynical world of the Sûreté. Gamache always hoped maybe someone had gotten it wrong, and there was no dead body.   (pg. 2)

Honestly, if you haven’t read this yet, you should. Penny’s writing lets you truly feel like you’re there, joining the friends for Thanksgiving dinner, watching them struggle with their art, appreciating their traditions and bonds. I’m looking forward to visiting Three Pines again.

Life was far from harried here. But neither was it still. (pg. 312)

First published in 2006
#1 in the Chief Inspector Gamache series
312 pages

Challenges: 100+, A to Z, Thriller and Suspense

My copy was purchased and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.