Saturday, June 10, 2017

Still Life - Mystery Review

Still Life (Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny (Amazon link)

Rating: Good
Source: Library

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.

Genre: Mystery

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.


  1. I a man SO glad you reviewed this book. I have heard good reviews from those who love the series and I am a big fan of the U.K. Police procedural books. This series has been recommended to me but I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it as we have similar tastes.
    Maybe after my latest DCI Banks books is released I will try Still Life. Good review.

  2. All I can say is that this series gets better and better. For me anyway. There are large story arcs that continue from book to book and then, of course, smaller stories that are concluded in each book. What I love about Penny's writing is the way she includes such thoughtful phrases, poetry, and deep philosophy. Lots of 'things that make you go hmmm...' - Ha!

  3. I've only read the first two and really need to remember to keep going with this one. I will say I thought book one dragged a bit, but it was setting up the scene, the characters and their relationships, etc so I forgive it for first book issues. I look forward to becoming comfy with the town and greeting the MCs like old friends!

  4. I think I've heard of these, the Quebec setting sounds familiar. Must have read a review somewhere. anyway glad this was good, it's always nice to discover a new series with lots of character development that grows from book to book. And I do like the sound of the Canadian setting.

  5. I have heard of these books, and I have been interested, so really great to read your review of this book, even though I have to admit I don't really go looking for mystery books. I too like the idea of Canadian setting. I actually hardly ever read a book set there now I think about it.

  6. I have read one book in this series--a much later one--which I loved and keep meaning to start at the beginning.I am glad you liked this one, Katherine.

  7. I enjoyed this book, too, and went on to read the second one. I've been intending to continue with the series, as I love the Gamache character and the Canadian setting.

    Thanks for sharing...and reminding me why I want to keep going with the series.

  8. I have been slowly picking up the books in this series and I now have quite a few. I hope to read this one soon. It sounds like it is a pretty good first book in a series.

  9. I've only read the first book and everyone says the following books are stronger. I enjoyed it and look forward to getting back to the series.

  10. Hoorah on finally trying out Inspector Armand Gamache!

  11. I'm a huge fan of this series. I love the way Penny writes and the depth she goes into with the characters, settings, history, etc. If you go in expecting an edge-of-your-seat thriller, you're going to be disappointed. Penny takes her time, which is one of the reasons I love her so much :) Also, I agree with Kay -- the series gets better as it goes.

    So glad you finally read STILL LIFE!