Still Life – Louise Penny (2005 Headline Book Publishing, Great Britain)
The small Quebec village of Three Pines is shaken to its core when one of its best-loved and upstanding citizens is found dead in the woods, felled by an arrow. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache – who has instantly become one of my favourite criminal investigators in fiction – is dispatched to figure out if Miss Neal’s death is due to a hunting accident or something more sinister, and he is immediately entangled in the lives of a fascinating and extremely well-drawn cast of characters: artists and poets, booksellers, restauranteurs and antiques dealers, some very sour teenagers and a greedy real estate agent. If you want your murder mysteries to be explosive and punchy, full of action and thrills, I suspect Penny’s writing is not for you – this is a book that spools and unspools slowly, with tantalizing details offered in tiny morsels, and a great deal of effort and care put into beautifully realized characterization and setting. I was truly blown away by the writing style – I can see why Penny has such a devoted legion of fans. Count me in as one of them.