In a small village in Quebec, a beloved retired teacher is found dead in the woods. She has been shot through the heart by an arrow. Is it murder, or simply a tragic hunting accident? Enter Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, sent from Montreal to investigate. In the way of murder mysteries everywhere, the tiny village of Three Pines is full of odd characters, many of whom are hiding secrets.
This is not quite a cozy mystery, and not quite a procedural, either. What this book is, however, is unabashedly Old School. Part of this feeling might be due to the fact that 1) this book is old! It was originally published in 2007. And 2) I was listening to the audio, which was clearly the 2007 BOCD digitized without any editing (disc breaks included!). We also have an omniscient narrator who pops in and out of different characters’ POV.
Gamache is an interesting character, described as the older, rounder, but very sharp-minded investigator. We also have several additional detectives and officers on Gamache’s team. In the town, there is a whole cast of characters, many of whom get at least short passages of POV. The mystery of who killed Jane Neal is almost secondary to character study, which takes up most of the novel.
Ultimately, Still Life felt like a book that would have been on “Mystery!” on PBS when I was in middle school. There are not a lot of surprises here for anyone who has read more than a handful of mysteries before, but Penny knows what she’s doing, and hits the beats she needs to hit to make this a satisfying read. I might pick up another book in the series at some point, but not going to make a point to continue on.