Still Life by Louise Penny


This is the first of the Louise Penny series of Chief Inspector Gamache stories; I listened to How the Light Gets In recently and loved it. This one confirms that I am a fan and will listen to the whole series eventually.

Though Armand Gamache is based in Montreal, the events occur in the village of Three Pines (these little towns can be so murderous!). We get to know those wonderful characters in this one, including the outspoken old poet Ruth, who does not yet have her pet duck Rosa. 

It is apparent that Louise Penny had much of the long-term story planned from the outset. There is a fleeting reference to an investigation in this book that is important in How the Light Gets In. Nice touch, I thought.

The woman who was murdered was a secretive artist and her painting eventually revealed her murderer. She had never let anyone beyond the kitchen of her house and it turned out the walls and the floor were covered in her artwork. 

I noted a reference to Abbie Hoffman when Gamache and his younger colleague Jean-Guy Beauvoir put some mouse carcasses that they came across in a basement in traps out in the open. 

"They'll be eaten," said Beauvoir.

"Exactly. Something will benefit at least. Abbie Hoffman said we should all eat what we kill. That would put an end to war."

Not for the first time Beauvoir was at a loss for words with Gamache. Was he serious? Was he, perhaps, a little touched? And who was Abbie Hoffman? A local cleric? Sounds like exactly the sort of thing a mystic Christian woud say.

Hadn't thought of Abbie Hoffman in a long time.

Louise Penny, Still Life, St. Martin's, 2007, 336 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available at the public library and Amazon.

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