A murder mystery commences when Jane Neal’s body is found in the woods of Three Pines. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is on the case with team: his second in command, Jean Guy Beauvoir; seasoned agent Isabelle Lacoste; and rookie Yvette Nichol. The body reveals a small hole right through Jane’s heart, and though it is initially thought to be a hunting accident since it’s the fall hunting season, Gamanhe is still suspicious. As he and his team dig into the background of Jane and the colorful characters of Three Pines, he finds that Jane was an unconventional artist who, thought she had never shared her artwork before, had entered one of her pieces in the local art show, inviting all of Three Pines to see. Simultaneously, another older woman with ties to the community has also recently passed away. Gamache is certain that there is a connection between the two.
As Gamache conducts his investigation, he questions many of the locals. Ben, a skilled bowhunter and neighbor, found Jane’s body and relays the background history of Three Pines. Clara, Jane’s best friend, and her husband Peter, Ben’s best friend, are both neighbors and fellow artists that reveal the information about the art show, as well as many details about Jane’s personal life. Yolande, Jane’s niece and only living relative, becomes an immediate suspect as she demands to know the status of Jane’s will and estate. Matthew Croft and his family, who have illegal priors, also become lead suspects.
As the mystery is woven together and finishes with the typical killer reveal, I found myself unexcited about the novel. There were times when Penny piqued my interest, and moments where a chunk of clever writing emitted a giggle from me, but otherwise, I found it hard to connect to these Three Pines characters. More than likely, I think my disconnect came from listening to the audiobook, rather than reading the novel. The narrator, Ralph Cosham, has a lovely European accent, but otherwise I found it distracting from the story. I also kept getting confused with all the characters- I probably should have made a chart or something. So when the big reveal came, though I was interested to know who did it, it wasn’t as much of a shock to me as it should have been, because I had only a general idea of who the killer character was. Only up reflecting on the summary of the novel did I realize what a good twist that was.
This book was a recommendation to me from a few members in book club- they absolutely adore Louise Penny, and they’ve read or are working on reading all her novels. I hate to say that after reading Still Life, I don’t think I’m interested enough to continue reading more Chief Investigator Gamache mysteries. Maybe in the future I’ll circle back and reread the actual book, in hopes to enjoy it more through that medium, but for now, I’ve got too many other things in my TBR pile to give it a second go. And trust me, that says nothing about their recommendations- these girls have great tastes in reads! So I say that if you are into murder mysteries, you should definitely check Louise Penny out, starting with Still Life, and tell me what you think. Should I give Three Pines another chance?
(PS: I’M SO SORRY MEGAN! I know this might break your heart 😦 )