I’ve been meaning to start the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny for the last year. Several of my friends are huge fans and reading their reviews on Goodreads made me sure that I would enjoy this series too. For Christmas, one of the themes of the gifts I got my sister was “first book in a series” and I ended up buying her a boxed set of the first three Louise Penny books. This, of course, meant that I could read them after she finished.
Though Still Life did not rock my world, I liked it and I’m already intrigued by Inspector Gamache and his team of investigators. I get the sense that this series is much like Henning Mankell’s Wallander books—there’s not a lot of flash and noise but rather slow but steady character-building with realistic procedural details.
In this debut, we’re introduced to Inspector Armand Gamache and some members of his team including the stylish but experienced Jean Guy Beauvoir and the newest recruit, Yvette Nichol, who comes to the group too anxious to prove herself and too sure of her own abilities. We also meet the residents of Three Pines, a small town outside of Montreal, because of the murder of Jane Neal, an older lady who was much loved by the community. Three Pines has its share of artists and Jane was not only a supporter of other artists but also an artist herself—though even her closest friend, Clara Morrow, hadn’t seen any of her art until the day before Jane died. Jane is found in the woods, shot through the heart by an arrow. The police are brought in even though it is not clear at first whether this was a hunting accident or something more purposeful.
This is a mystery that is “chewy” so you have to pay attention but the reward is not only an interesting plot but one where you care about the people in it. I enjoyed my first visit to Three Pines and I know I will be back soon.