Still Life by Louise Penny (#1 Armand Gamache)

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)

Still Life by Louise Penny

Published: 2005


Still Life by Louise Penny is the 1st in the Armand Gamache mystery series.

Chief Inspector Gamache is called to the quaint village of Three Pines, just outside of Montreal, to investigate the death of Jane Neal, a long-time resident.  At first glance, it appears she was accidentally hit by a stray hunting arrow.   But Gamache is suspicious.   Jane had finally decided to show people her art, and her first piece “Fair Day” got accepted for display at an up-coming event.  A quirky piece showing all the villagers, although some of them look like animals.  Perhaps one of them didn’t like their depiction?  Or did Jane have another secret?   Her daughter, Yolande, is quite a piece of work, and so is her son.  Gamache is also having problems with one of his new recruits.

We get to meet the villagers of Three Pines, which seems to cater to artistic folk.  A wild assortment of characters including: disheveled Clara, (she was like a daughter to Jane);  and Clara’s husband Peter who is a successful artist;  Ruth, a cantankerous old woman who appears to hate everyone but has won the Governor General’s award for poetry;  Olivier and Gabri the gay owners of the Bistro;  Myrna, a retired psychologist who now runs the book store; Ben, who is Peter’s best friend, and who doesn’t appear to work;  and a host of other delightful and not-so-delightful villagers.

Louise Penny created a wonderful village and added unique residents, all who speak their mind.  The dialogue rings true, and is often hilarious.   The characters are far from perfect, which makes them believable, and lovable.  The plot itself has a few interesting turns too.

I love this series and would recommend it to any mystery lover out there!

Favorite Quotes from Still Life:

“Life is change.  If you aren’t growing and evolving you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.  Most of these people are very immature.  They lead “still” lives, waiting.”

“I’m not a brave man, I’m afraid, but I can’t tolerate killing.  Killing anything.  I have spiders in my home with names.”

Gamache wondered how low the bar was set when all a man had to do to attract a woman was not smell of decomposing bears.

They say time heals. I think that’s bullshit, I think time does nothing. It only heals if the person wants it to.

p.s.  I could have added another 10 quotes without batting an eye….

Re-Read: September 2016

About the Author:  Louise Penny was born in Toronto in 1958, and became a journalist and radio host for the CBC, specializing in hard news and current affairs.  She has also lived in Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Quebec City and Montreal, where she met her husband.  She now lives in a small village south of Montreal..  She is a big supporter of the SPCA. 


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