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“Still Life ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 03/05/2006

Still Life
Louise Penny
St. Martin's, Jul 2006, $22.95
ISBN 0312352557

In the woods near the crime free village of Three Pines, Quebec, someone kills popular beloved septuagenarian artist Jane Neal. Since the small town has no police force, the Surete du Quebec dispatches fiftyish Chief Inspector Armand Gamache to lead the investigation starting with determining whether it was an unfortunate deer hunting accident or a homicide.

The homicide investigator quickly sees the rigid corpse and immediately concludes a murder occurred. Gamache questions the locals seeking a motive, but is unable to pinpoint one down as everyone seems to love the late Miss Neal. He especially looks closer at Jane's niece, Yolande, who Gamache believes knows more than she reveals. As he continues to dig, Gamache begins to uncover clues that slowly bring into focus the culprit, who has cleverly hidden in plain sight.

This is a fantastic Canadian police procedural starring a methodical detective who works a case in which finding a motive seems impossible as the victim is very popular with no apparent enemy. However, as good as the case and Armand are (both superb), the feel for Quebec with its bilingual culture in many ways steals the show as Louise Penny provides a keen sense of location. Readers will appreciate STILL LIFE and demand future Gamache investigations.

Harriet Klausner

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