Last year, MsWas reviewed and highly recommended Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. She promised we would love them. While I did not race out and buy or borrow the books, I did begin to recommend them to people based on MsWas review. Everyone returned favorable reports. After many months I finally picked up Still Life. As promised, I loved it.
I don’t know if it’s some form of self-loathing or deep-seated distrust, but I have a hard time reading books I’m told I will love. And every time, I kick myself for not having read sooner. Friends, don’t hesitate, start this lovely series now.
Still Life is an engrossing and gentle read, for a murder mystery. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a homicide detective for the Sûreté du Québec. His career has stalled out, but he is still well respected. Jane Neal starts out the book a murder victim, but she seemed as alive to me as she did to the characters mourning her death. While this is a murder mystery, it is a book about characters. The characters are well drawn and fleshed out, or not, as is appropriate.
The line that told me I was thoroughly hooked was this one in chapter 2:
He gave Gabri a moment to compose himself, fully realizing it was possible Gabri had never been composed.
In one sentence we learn so much about Gamache and Louise Penny. Gemache is observant, thoughtful and patient. He quickly sizes up Gabri, but rather than judging him, he offers him courtesy. Louise Penny shows herself to be an author who understands character. In a few words, she tells you more about who her characters are through the way they treat others and the way others see them, than through description.
The identity of the murderer is illuminated through what is not shown.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.