Today’s theme is (Some of) The Best of the Best! Be sure to check out the posts on Jojo Moyes & Joshilyn Jackson too!
Has everyone discovered Chief Inspector Gamache? No? Well, add Louise Penny’s fabulous books to your TBR pile! (Be sure to read them in order… STILL LIFE is book 1.)
I don’t know how to describe these books, other than to say that they are unlike anything else in literature. Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is noble in the truest sense of the word. He takes on tasks that are designed to humiliate him in a corrupt police force (and government?) in his beloved Quebec, and somehow he always comes out alive and on the right side of morality (though he’s a little harder on himself than most of the people around him are).
Each book has a central murder mystery that Gamache and his team must solve, but around it are shards of other broken communities, systems and institutions that the central mystery (and other elements of the story) are somehow reflective of, and as they work through to the truth of the intimate crime, they discover facets of the grander issue, too, which is often much more diabolical and dangerous than the murder.
Integral to the series are the town and citizens of Three Pines, the tiny town we’re introduced to in STILL LIFE, which becomes increasingly important to Gamache as the books progress. Through Gamache, who’s French Canadian, and Three Pines, Penny explores the continuing tension between English and French Canada, which still exists and plays a role in the series’ story arcs.
As tumultuous and complicated as Gamache’s life becomes, he always has his beloved wife by his side, physically and spiritually, and honestly, as a romance fan, I have to say that this fictional marriage is one of the most deeply satisfying love stories in literature. Like the best soft-spoken heroes (and Gamache is indeed one of those too), that romance is one for the ages, steely and stalwart beneath the quiet, soft exterior.
It astounds me that Louise Penny’s first novel was STILL LIFE, the first Inspector Ganache novel, but apparently it was. It was a stunning debut and she’s only become better, the stories more bold and complex, Gamache more resolute and heroic.
I haven’t managed to get to the next book, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, yet (ack – too many great books to read for August posts!), but I’ll get to it as soon as I can. It releases September 1, and if you’re already a fan I’m sure you’re as excited as I am.
And if you’re not already a fan, then don’t worry about this one, because you have fifteen others to read first! What are you waiting for? Get started!
This is one of the best series ever, and Gamache will go down as one of the best detectives—possibly even characters—of all time.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.
(This review is part of Read-A-Romance Month. Hope you’ll come back every day to check out my book recommendations. You can find the calendar here. Also check out The Romance of Reading, a Facebook “book club” where we’ll have great authors guest hosting every week.)
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