Book notes | Still Life

Louise Penny, the author of Still Life, lives in a small village south of Montreal. Three Pines, the setting for this murder mystery and for the others in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, is a haven for artists and those looking for a peaceful place to live. Although also in Canada, it is not a real place.

In this book, Penny’s debut novel, we are introduced to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, whom we can follow in the entire 18-book series. He is a wise man, beloved by his colleagues and those under him.

The victim is Jane Neal, a retired school teacher. At first her death is considered to be a hunting accident. The mystery centers around her art work. Jane has finally succeeded in having a painting accepted for the annual village fair. Not only did she never allow anyone to look at her art, but she also never allowed anyone to come into her house except for the kitchen. We learn at the end that Jane had painted the walls in the same fashion as the painting she did for the fair.

Red herrings
Those who live in Three Pines include Ruth, Clara and Peter, Ben, Myrna, Gabri, and Beauvoir. A couple of others are Matthew Croft and Jane’s niece and supposed heir Yolande Malenfant. These two are among the red herrings who throw us readers off the track of the murderer.

Myrna is a psychologist who gives a telling clue to Inspector Gamache that he doesn’t recognize until after he knows who the murderer is. She says that someone could be dangerous if they cannot do anything to change themselves. They are immature and “lead ‘still’ lives, waiting.”

Several UMRA Book Club I members are avid fans of the Louise Penny books while for a few this was their first introduction to the mysteries set in Three Pines. The book was well received by the group. The book club members thought the characters were the best part of the story but, at the same time, thought it was difficult to keep them all straight. They especially liked Armand Gamache, considering him to be a good teacher.

—Pat Tollefson, UMRA Book Club I member

Publication date: 
June 22, 2022
At A Glance
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Annual Meeting and Forum

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