STILL LIFE by Louise Penny
5 stars!! I feel so lucky to have found this books series by Louise Penny. I have been introduced to some of the most memorable characters. There is Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec with his lovely wife Reine-Marie. Ms. Penny does a great job of allowing the reader to feel the warmth and trust in their relationship. We also learn of Armand’s insecurities and his ability to trust his instincts. Jean-Guy Beauvoir, the 2nd in command, who idealizes Armand both as a mentor and father figure. While Armand is calm, steadfast and level-headed, Jean-Guy is the opposite. He tends to be hot-headed and feels a deep desire not only to do well to make Armand proud but to protect Armand too. Then she introduces us to the idyllic village of Three Pines and it’s residents. The love shared, support and acceptance given in this village makes me wish it were a real place. I would move there in a second, although my French would be challenged.
A beloved resident, Jane Neal is found murdered in the woods just outside the village. Murder just doesn’t happen in Three Pines and Jane would be the last person anyone would want to murder. Armand and Jean-Guy arrive and meet the people of Three Pines. Clara and Peter Morrow, starving artists with individual styles and personalities. Ruth Zardo, a well known poet who has an acidic personality. There is Gabri and Olivier, the owners of the B & B which is full of antiques for sale. They also run the local cafe which is the center of village information (gossip). They serve delicious food, fabulous drinks and a big dose of humor. Armand and Guy make the B & B home while they investigate this mysterious murder. These are just the beginnings of a wonderful cast of characters.
The author uses a smattering of French which some of the words and expressions must be unique to Quebec because they aren’t found in my French dictionary. This helps remind the reader that the majority of conversation takes place in French but since some English-speaking people live in Three Pines, we learn that Armand speaks beautiful English but don’t know why.
The murder is the main story but there are under currents of other stories which makes the reader want to get to know the characters better. Will Armand and Jean-Guy find out who killed Jane and why? Will the community surround the guilty party and protect her/him or will they help solve the mystery?
I don’t like to write too much about what happens in the book because I don’t want to be a spoiler but I am very happy I found this book series.