This is the first novel by Louise Penny, a Canadian mystery writer, and this series was recommended to me by my school librarian by way of a conversation looking for books to supplement my craving for more writers like Tana French and Robert Galbraith. For the most part, I think this book is close, but I am hoping that some of the later books in the series took a little longer to develop the world around the plot/mystery.
We are in a small village in Quebec on the verge of an arts festival when Jane, a retired school teacher surrounded by her longtime (non-family) friends submits a work to the festival that captures both a horrifically worrisome amateurish, but masking a professional and serious talent around the periphery. It is submitted to the festival.
Then she ends up dead in the woods with what looks like an arrow wound through the heart. Quebec (Anglo) police inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigate.
I did think that Penny builds a world around the mystery in a really fascinating way. It’s not as gritty as Tana French or Galbraith in its details or worldview, but it takes it time a little more than Agatha Christie. I think the final product is something like Kate Atkinson and Miss Marple combined, at least for this particular book. The writing is very good over all and she manages to make the art she’s describing feel real in a way that many books fail at.
My biggest quibble is that there’s a lot of information about archery in this book and she has some characters teach other characters. There’s a lot of emphasis put on the use of a recurve bow, which she immediately defines incorrectly, which is annoying (I used to be an archery teacher).