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December 2018



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The Brutal Telling, Louise Penny


The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, according to Robert Frost in one of my favourite poems. Louise Penny’s woods aren’t lovely at all; they’re more like something out of the X-Files, brr. I think it was Geranium Cat who suggested I might like Louise Penny and she was bang right. I spotted The Brutal Telling at the library and once I started reading, could hardly put it down.

It’s my introduction to Chief Inspector Gamache (I keep wanting to call him Ganache) of the homicide department of the Sûreté du Québec; intelligent, human and admired by all. He’s called in to investigate a murder in a village an hour’s drive from Montreal. Three Pines is a small community yet it boasts a first class bistro, a bakery, a general store and a second hand book shop. So civilised! But one morning the body of a murdered man is found on the floor of the bistro and no one knows who he is. That’s not strictly true: one person does know and he’s too scared to tell. Everyone in the village must be a suspect. Is the murderer the person who found the body? The person later revealed to have moved the body? The other person who moved the body yet again?

The answer is in the forest, and wood of various kinds is a running theme. A wooden cabin, antique furniture, wooden carvings, totem poles, the red cedars of the Queen Charlotte Islands. When Gamache and his team are eventually led to a cabin in the woods they find it packed with antique treasures, which just adds to the mystery. Why on earth would someone live alone there, surrounded by priceless objects? And who would want to kill him, and why? It’s a psychological mystery, solved by Gamache’s relentless questioning, as well as by the usual routine police work. There’s not much of the thriller about this book but its depiction of life on the Canadian/Vermont border, the scenery and the somewhat strange yet likeable inhabitants of Three Pines make it a very enjoyable read.


I haven't read any of Louise's books (yet) but I follow her blog. She writes engagingly about her home and work life, and her great success is a source of genuine amazement and delight to her, it seems.
She sounds a nice, modest person and she's just got herself a new reader. I didn't know about the blog, thanks!


I think this sounds like an excellent film-in-waiting. Murder, mystery, antiques and beautiful scenery - what more could you ask for.
Wee Sister
I'm mentally casting Gamache. Michael Gambon, maybe, although he's too old.
The book certainly sounds like it has a lot going for it :)
I thought so!
According to the comment you left on my DW, it was Mary at Mary's Library who suggested it. :-)

Intriguing to see you've read book 5! I'm currently reading book 6 and the events you mention are referenced in it, in fact you could say it is partly a sequel to The Brutal Telling.
Oh dear, wrong attribution, eh?

I didn't know what number book it was but that's the problem with borrowing from the library. They've probably got rid of books 1-4 already :-(
My library only has books 1, 2, and 6.

I copied the proper order from the FAQ on Penny's website:

Still life
A fatal grace/Dead cold
The cruel(l)est month
A rule against murder/The murder stone
The brutal telling
Bury your dead
A trick of the light
The beautiful mystery (this one has just been published)

A friend of mine (the one who likes Tess Gerritsen, perhaps you remember) is currently reading book 3 and liking it very much. Suddenly Louise Penny is everywhere! :-)
Thanks for the list. Tess Gerritsen is far too gruesome for me!
Since I've enthused about the Three Pines books on more than one occasion, I'm delighted to see you enjoyed this one! Haven't read it yet, so I must look to see if the library's got it.
I did, thanks! It was the only one in our library but I see now that they really should be read in order.