Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

This murder mystery (312 pages) was published in September of 2008 by St. Martin's Minotaur. The book takes you to the forests of Quebec, Canada. Melissa read Still Life and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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Still Life

A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Louise Penny

The remote village of Three Pines in the forests of Quebec is an idyllic escape from city life — except for its propensity for brutal murders and buried secrets. Luckily, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is on the case.

Gamache is the hero of 16 mystery novels — by Canadian author Louise Penny — featuring intricately plotted murder mysteries that are as dark as a double-shot of espresso. The heavy burden of villainous crimes — on Gamache and on us — is lightened by a cast of endearing characters that come to feel like old friends. There’s the doubt-riddled painter, the loving gay couple that owns the local bistro, the wizened poet, the soulful psychologist-turned-bookseller, Gamache’s much-adored wife Reine Marie, and Jean-Guy, his prickly #2 at the Sûreté.

In this first installment of the series, we’re introduced to Gamache and his circle of friends and family on a misty Thanksgiving morning. A well-liked local — Miss Jane Neal — has been found dead amongst the maple trees. The assumption is that she was the victim of a tragic bowhunting accident, but Inspector Gamache, sadly, suspects something more sinister.

As Gamache investigates, we look over his shoulder and learn about the intricacies of archery, the covert messages that are embedded in works of art, and the tensions between French and English Canadians. Despite his deeply held belief in the inherent goodness of people, Gamache is forced to face the shadows of greed and treachery that stalk this seemingly peaceful village.

Louise Penny was 46 when this novel was published after being ignored or rejected by 50 publishers. Still Life went on to win the ‘New Blood’ Dagger award in the U.K., the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada for best first crime novel, the Dilys Award, the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel in the U.S.

‘There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?’

She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin.

‘They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean.’ Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. ‘I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong.’ — Louise Penny

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