This was my second outing to Three Pines with Inspector Armond Gamache and his team from the Montreal Surete and I am now fully hooked. I’m pretty sure I compared this series to Henning Mankell’s Wallander books after I read Still Life because this series has a similar feel to me—a slow and thoughtfully plotted story where details build and build and the “who did it?” is far less interesting than the “why?”
The residents of this town are starting to become familiar to me—the artist couple, Peter and Clara; Ruth, the grumpy but brilliant poet; Olivier and Gabri, owners of the local inn and bistro. Indeed, you know you’re reading a different type of mystery series when Inspector Gamache does not appear until eight chapters in—after the murder of CC de Poitiers, an unlikeable but driven woman, during a curling match.
Inspector Gamache and his team descend on the village and attempt to learn who, out of all the people who disliked CC, might have been her killer but their investigation only seems to muddy the waters—especially when a cold case that Gamache had been taking a second look at seems to be connected.
Louise Penny’s skill here is that the main focus of the novel is the town and the people and the murder mystery is simply an event that brings them together in new and complicated ways. Penny hints at some complexities in Gamache’s back story and brings a new police officer into the team, Robert Lemieux, in addition to the return of the abrasive and divisive, Yvette Nichol. Still, the heart of this novel is the residents of Three Pines and slowly, their mysteries are, too, being revealed.