Louise Penny, Still Life: A Mystery, St Martins Minotaur, NY, 2005
My sister told me about this writer, and her delightful murder mysteries, some time ago. Not long ago I was at a meeting at a friend's home. He is a bookseller and somehow the conversation turned to Louise Penny. It's a while ago so I'm not certain, but I think he and his partner were talking about holidays they had enjoyed in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and I asked if they knew of Louise Penny. Came home with 4 of her books. I've read two now, and I love them.
Armand Gamache, a Chief Inspector in the Sûreté in Québec, is a wonderful character, with an interior life that Penny is adept at revealing. In fact, the police, and other characters are vividly drawn, relatively whole people. Penny has made me laugh, out loud. And I've enjoyed the emotional ride.
The story is interesting, the setting both somewhat twee, and interesting as it is Québec, the great Canadian Other, in English, with French. The village, Three Pines, is fraught with frequent murders, as locations for detective stories often are. The story remains believable, the end is not disappointing, and the twists and turns are well plotted so as not to leave the reader feeling they've been tricked.
I like it that some of the characters are visual artists. There are two lovely gay men who operate a bistro and B&B. Some characters are simply outrageous, and their interactions with others are often funny and sharp. It's the intelligence of the writing that produces people one wants to know more of. Thanks to the tendency of many mystery/detective story writers to developing series of books. I get to visit Three Pines, and survive a winter in Québec without having to by a down coat.
I'm writing this after having read the 2nd of Penny's books. I know some of the repeating characters more fully. I have two more of Penny's novels in a bag near my desk; I'll be finding the others.