Still Life (Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny (Amazon link)
Description: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, 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 this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try Louise Penny since I started hearing raves when I first started blogging.
My Impression: Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series is one that I've been wanting to read since I first heard of it early on in my blogging life. It's one that as a life long mystery reader I'm kind of surprised I hadn't stumbled on long before then. There are so many elements that I absolutely love in a mystery - it's a police procedural mystery but also with a human element. It's not cutesy or silly but not too gritty, gore-y, or dark either. Most procedurals I have read in the past take place in the UK so this series having a Canadian setting was a nice treat.
This was series I'd been told many times that I needed to start at the beginning and after reading this I can see why. There are so many personalities and relationships that I can already see the potential for development and being in at the beginning seems important. I love Gamache and the rest of the team (except for one but I think that was intended) and watching the different ways they interacted with the suspects and witnesses was interesting. I also enjoyed being a fly on the wall as they pooled information and discussed theories.
The mystery was interesting and the conclusion was surprising. There were lots of red herrings and false leads and I was surprised by the end and loved how the pieces fit together. This wasn't the fastest paced mystery. I wouldn't say it dragged at any point but each piece of evidence was uncovered carefully. I enjoyed it and the characters and will certainly be picking up the 2nd book in the series very soon. However, I had a hard time rating this one. If it was completely a stand alone I think I would have rated it as Good or 3 Stars without hesitation. But because it is part of a series and I can see the potential for so much growth and I'm really excited to see more of the characters I was very tempted to rate this higher even though for the book itself it was a solid 3.
If you are looking for a solid mystery and enjoy authors like Deborah Crombie than this would be a great pick. As an added bonus you'll have a number of books to catch up on while you wait for Crombie's next book!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I enjoyed this book and really saw the potential for a great series.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I definitely would. If you enjoy police procedurals than I think you'd love this book.