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  1. This is the eighth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series and is described on the back cover as "the most outstanding novel yet from international bestselling phenomenon Louise Penny". I am not sure that I would describe it as the best but it is certainly well up there! Like The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead I just could not put this book down. Like a few of the other books in the series so far this book is not set in the village of Three Pines but unlike any of the novels so far no characters from the village appear in this book. The only regular characters to appear are Gamache himself and his second in command Inspector Beauvoir. Gamache's boss Sylvain Francoeur also appears again in this novel but the reader has seen only a little of him in previous books so I do not count him as a regular character. The book is actually set in a monastery hidden deep in the wilderness and inhabited by two dozen monks. They are men of prayer and music and until the recent release of a CD of their music have been hidden from the rest of the world for centuries. However the murder of one of their number forces them to invite the world in. As Gamache and Beauvoir investigate the murder it becomes clear that the community of monks is not all that it seems. Gamache finds clues in the divine, the human and the cracks in between. Once again I would describe this as an exceptional book but would have to acknowledge that it would not be for everyone. Viccie read the third book in the series recently and said that if she had not read the first two and enjoyed them she would have given up on it as she could not get on with "the flowery language" (her description not mine). I love the descriptive language and the examinations of human nature and character development that appear in the books alongside the details of the crimes. I learnt early on in the series that the Gamache books are far more than a set of crime novels. I suspect that if that is all they were I would have given up on them by now. I love many of the characters and am beginning to care for many of them more and more. I finished this one in a state of shock and am almost dreading what I will find at the beginning of the next one! I am finding this to be a wonderful series of books. Not only do I love the character development from book to book but I find it amazing the way that the books often prompt me to look more closely at my own behaviour and relationships. This book , probably because of where it is set and the way that it examines faith, has been especially good at this. I will be very sorry to finish the books, I suspect that I will feel quite bereft without them! A bit like saying goodbye to old friends.
  2. This is the third in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and once again it is mainly set in the small Quebec village of Three Pines. Many of the usual characters appear and are becoming more and more familiar. The reader is made aware of the thoughts and feelings of many of the characters. Once again the foibles of human nature play as much a part in the content of the book as the details of the crime. In this book however issues beyond the crime itself play a part and details of the Inspector's earlier career emerge. The crime itself happens at a seance in an old house on the edges of the village. Once again the crime takes place in a room full of people but no witnesses are available and there are few clues. Anybody present at the seance could have committed the crime apart from the victim of course! Once again the book is very character driven and the details of the crime are clever rather than totally believable. Being set at a seance in an old abandoned house the book is quite creepy in places but far from terrifying. As I continue with this series I find myself liking many of the characters more and more. They really are a bit of an oddly assorted bunch but then I guess that such groups of people often are. Once again I would be happy to recommend this book but would point out that as crime novels go it really is on the gentle clever side rather than the brutal or gory! I think that I for one am becoming addicted!
  3. This is the seventh novel by Louise Penny featuring Chief Inspector Gamache and his team. Once again this story is set in the idyllic village of Three Pines in Quebec. Many of the characters who appear in previous books make appearances in this story too and the reader watches as their lives develop as much as they read about the crime which forms the central part of the book. A women is found in a flower bed in the garden of two of the residents of Three Pines. Her eyes are wide open and her neck has been broken. Her death is a complete mystery as is the women herself and her reason for being in Three Pines. As the story unfolds Gamache and his team uncover many secrets of those who have known he women over the years including the two residents of the village. Once again the murderer is found to be somebody known to the women and many of those living in the village. Once again the book is very character driven and the reader is given an insight into the world of the artist as well as seeing the relationships between well loved characters develop. Although this is a slow read as far as the crime itself is concerned it has far more to offer. The books really do need to be read in order to fully appreciate the real basis of these stories, the characters themselves. I admit that some of the books are better than others but as far as I am concerned the books are well worth the effort. A brilliant series. I already have the next one on my TBR shelf. I feel as if these books have helped me through the winter!!
  4. Well I thought that the last in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, The Brutal Telling, was good but I think that this book may be even better! I was gripped until the very end. It actually tells three stories regarding three different crimes. One is the continuation of the story told in the previous book and is investigated by Gamache's second in command Inspector Beauvoir who narrates this part of the book. The second concerns a crime that has happened in the recent past and the main part of the story is told by Gamache replaying a conversation over in his mind. The third is a current crime and takes place in Quebec city. A man has been brutally murdered in a library where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their history. The death opens a door to the past, exposing a mystery that has lain dormant for years. I found the way in which Louise Penny managed to weave the three stories around one another really well done. I had to concentrate a bit but it was in no way a difficult read. Many of the characters from the previous books appear in this one even though the main part of the action does not take place in Three Pines. I was held by all three stories until the very end and cannot say that I guessed the climax of any of the three stories. When the climax of the three stories came I just could not put the book down. By the end of the book I was practically out of breath! I found the ending of all three stories quite heartbreaking as well as surprising. This is far more than a crime novel. It tells a lot about a part of Quebec history and taught me much apart the place that I did not know. All three crimes were cleverly told without being gory or using bad language but the best part of the book are the human stories. As I read each book I find myself caring more and more for many of the characters. I would certainly recommend this series to other readers. The first few books I found to be quite comfortable reads but as I go along I am finding that the books are getting better and better. Brilliant!
  5. This is the fifth book in The Inspector Gamache series and in my opinion by far and away the best. Unlike previous novels in this series the crime itself was very believable and far darker than I have come to expect. This novel takes the reader back to Three Pines following a different setting in the previous book and the usual group of villagers reappear. Both the members of Gamache's team and many of the villagers are becoming like old friends and story lines loosely run from book to book which I really like. When a dead body is discovered in the village bistro the villagers are all shocked. When no weapon, motive, suspect or even identity of the victim can be easily discovered Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are faced with the task of uncovering clues of the victim's past. Once again the book is very character driven and as much is learnt by watching and listening to members of the village as by any other means. As I have said in comparison with other books in this series this story is quite dark. It is also remarkably clever and very detailed. The reader has to concentrate all the time for fear of missing the odd little clue here or the odd little clue there. Unlike other books in the series I really did have no idea who the murderer was until the very end when all was explained. Even then I was not completely convinced that there was not going to be one last twist. My attention was held until the very last page! I found this book very hard to put down and would not hesitate to recommend it to other readers. When describing other books in the series I have suggested that regular readers of crime novels may find the crimes a little far fetched and the pace a little slower. Not so with this book. The author has managed to create a crime novel in which the crime and the solving of it holds the reader's attention as much as the characters and the views offered of human nature and behaviour. A very sophisticated crime novel in fact and a great read.
  6. This is the fourth in the Inspector Gamache series and is the first of the series in which the greatest part of the action takes place away from Three Pines. The wealthy Finney family get together each year at The Manoir Bellchasse, an exclusive hotel set in The Canadian Wilderness, to pay tribute to their late father. During their stay each year old secrets and bitter rivalries have a habit of resurfacing and this year's get together is to prove no different from previous year's! When a massive thunder storm hits the hotel following a heat wave this year proves to be a little different. After the storm a body is found in the grounds by one of the gardeners. Chief inspector Gamache of the Surete du Québec and his wife happen to be staying at the hotel along with the Finney family and when the hotel is locked down he calls his usual team to help him solve the murder. Three Pines is not left out completely however as two members of the Finney family are residents of the village and have played parts in all three of the previous stories. Gamache knows that as nobody is allowed to leave the murderer is cornered and could strike again so solving the crime quickly is required. Once again the joy of this book for me are the characters and their relationships with one another along with the pictures the reader is able to build up of human nature itself. As usual Gamache is a brilliant leading man and somebody who, if he actually existed, I would love to be able to sit down with over a quiet drink and chat to. Once again the crime itself is not the most important part of this book and although all is explained clearly leaving the reader in no doubt as to what has happened the explanation is a little far fetched to say the least. For me this is a little unimportant but I do realise that readers of more common crime novels may find the Gamache series a little slow moving for their tastes. Although this series is one that I would freely recommend to other readers I would have point out the relatively slow pace of the novels.
  7. This is the second book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and once again is set in the Quebec village of Three Pines. Many of the characters who appeared in the first book also appear in this one, both amongst the villagers and the Inspector's team. Once again the book is as much about the characters involved and human nature in general as it is about any crime. Gamache himself is really beginning to grow on me as are many of the other characters and they are beginning to feel a little like old friends. A series like this is just great for me as I love character driven books and this series promises to be a favourite. The crime itself is set in deep winter and concerns an electrocuted body. It seems to be the perfect crime as although it happened in a crowd of people there appears to be no witnesses or clues. When the inspector starts to untangle the victims past however he discovers a history filled with enemies and shadows. The crime itself is a little bit far fetched but quite clever. The writer drops little clues as she goes along. This is an enjoyable series but if you are looking for hard hitting crime writing I doubt this is for you. It really is much gentler than that. In many ways I think of Louise penny as a modern day Agatha Christie. I would certainly recommend this book and the series.
  8. I finished this book yesterday having taken a few weeks to read it due to time restraints. I believe it to be the first in a series of books describing the cases of a Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and is based in Quebec. I was drawn to the book partly because I have enjoyed other crime series and partly because I was interested in the fact that it was based in Quebec. Other members of BGO have also stated that they have enjoyed books from the series. I found the book very easy to read and I am sure that if I had had the time I would have polished the book off pretty quickly. There was no awkward writing style to struggle with thank goodness! The book is based in a small rural town called Three Pines following the murder of an elderly lady and much loved member of the community. I found that the story was as much about the characters and history of the members of the community and Gamache's style of investigation and personality as it was about the murder case. There was certainly no masses of blood and gore more a gentle revealing of character traits and clues. As a crime book I would describe it as a gentle read rather than a hard hitting crime book. Just an easy book to read set in a lovely place with an interesting mix of characters with a mystery thrown in. And enjoyable read.
  9. These books were recommended to me by Momac, for which she has my sincere thanks and eternal gratitude as they have given me great pleasure, enjoyment and welcome relaxation. Also, an addiction to the writing of Louise Penny. The quiet village of Three Pines in rural Quebec has an interesting assortment of inhabitants including a poet, two artists, an antiques collector and a psychologist turned bookshop owner who meet in each other’s homes or the friendly local bistro to socialise, exchange gossip and enjoy good food. Strangely, for such a pleasant restful village,Three Pines does tend to have rather more murders than one would expect. Chief Inspector Gamache, Head of Homicide for the Surete of Quebec, comes with his team to investigate in the first book, Still Life. Thereafter he and the team return at frequent intervals, to solve new murders, while getting to know and understand the villagers more as time goes on. This makes it hard when those they like are among the suspects. Sometimes the actual crimes occur elsewhere but there is always a link to Three Pines. This series really should be read in order as there are many themes and storylines running parallel and developing throughout. The personalities and dynamics of the Homicide Team are well portrayed and we begin to know them well as individuals and have an interest in their personal lives. The lives of some villagers are also explored in detail and we may become fond of or exasperated by them, This is done by thoughtful explorations of human strengths, weaknesses and dilemmas, not in any way trite or mawkish. The final and greatest pleasure of this series for me was all the incidental general or detailed information about customs, history and locations in and around French speaking Quebec. As usual I ended up with google maps handy to work out where everything occurred in this vast beautiful country and it hqs left me looking forward to learning more. I gladly recommend this series and so far have read/listened to and enjoyed seven books. The sixth, Bury the Dead, is outstandingly good and gained several awards, but as mentioned previously it is best to read in order to enjoy perfectly.
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