Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Sounds like a wonderful book, and an awesome series of books! I am sure I would love Chief Inspector Gamache and the quaint village of Three Pines. I live in the city, but there are definitely parts of country living and out of the way places that appeal to me. I couldn't help but think how the description of Gamache reminded me of Poirot or Sherlock, two of my all time favorite crime solvers. Also, I find I most often prefer the book to a movie. It is rare for the main character actor to really live up to the main character in the book.

    1. Exactly, Cynthia. Louise Penny did a brilliant job of crafting a village we'd all like to spend time in and a detective whose approach is intriguing. Movies almost never trump books. Aren't we glad!?!

  2. This one sounds right up my alley. Putting it on my "want to read" list. I like small town mysteries.

  3. I have read A Great Reckoning for book club several years ago and remember enjoying it. I did not realize it was a series so I will have to go back to the beginning and read the series. As soon as you mentioned Chief Inspector Gamache and the village of Three Pines, I knew I had read something in this series. Thanks for the review.

  4. It is so funny to see this review here now. I just finished reading Glass Houses by the same author. Like you, it took me a little while to get into the "scene", but once there, I was hooked too! These are great stories and not as gory as some (thank goodness). I can do without the gore, but love a great story!

  5. Going to save this book and the others for my mom. These would make a good gift for her. I had to look to see if Three Pines exists, and it appears to. Found the website and the books are mentioned and local attractions. During search I found a place that said for ThreePines see Stanbridge East, Quebec. If that's the spot, it's not very far from my mom's house. Well many hours driving, but still not at the other end of Quebec. Mom is Brockville, Ontario. It looks like ThreePines is southeast of Montreal.

    1. oops I see a typo on the link above, it's (forgot the r)

  6. Always looking for new gift ideas for my avid mystery reader - sounds like a winner!


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