Still Life by Louise Penny
Three Pines, Quebec is an idyllic little town full of wonderfully quirky people. Jane Neal is one of those wonderfully quirky people, for instance, she won’t let anyone anywhere in her house besides her kitchen, and she refuses to show anyone her artwork. Until one day she decides to submit her artwork to the local community show. Her painting is accepted and she announces to her friends that she will be inviting them over after the show for a celebratory party in her living room. The next day she is found dead in the woods, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigate.
This was the first of the (currently) five Inspector Gamache novels – I understand a 6th one will be coming out in September – and Penny got the series off to an auspicious start.
I really , really enjoyed this book. Penny’s characters were well-drawn and realistic, but funny and wry as well. I had no idea who the killer was until s/he was revealed, but once I did the reasoning fell into place well, without any noticeable holes. Plus, Penny knows how to turn a good phrase. My only qualm is that there were a LOT of characters, particularly among those who worked for Gamache, and some of them got a little lost in the shuffle. If this had been a completely stand alone book, I think I would have considered that a flaw, but as the first book in a series, I can excuse it for now, assuming these same characters will be showing up in subsequent books and that Penny won’t be introducing new ones.
This was a fun cozy mystery that still kept my brain whirring, highly recommended.