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review 2017-07-20 20:43
Still Life
Still Life - Louise Penny

I'm in an online book group that started this series, and I decided to follow along since my library has the audiobooks available for loan. I have too many books on my list to read these, but listening to the audiobooks don't put me out at all. I hadn't heard about this series prior to my club selecting it, but the descriptions sounded interesting so I jumped on board. 

 

Well, I was in danger of dropping the first book, Still Life, after less than an hour of listening. It's very rare for me to chuck a book to the DNF bucket, especially so soon after starting, so I slugged forward to finish it. It wasn't a long audiobook, so I figured I should be able to get through it quickly even if I wasn't enjoying it. 

 

The biggest issue was the narrator's style. I enjoyed his voice and cadence, but there are no pauses or breaks between shifts of PoV. I was so lost before I got used to it! I listen to my audiobooks while doing something else (driving, gardening, laundry, etc.) so my attention isn't always 100% on the book. Add the two together and this book started off as a hot mess for me. I did have to go back a few times to catch something or figure out if I missed a PoV shift, but it wasn't as annoying as I thought it would be. 

 

The characters were enjoyable. While I liked the variety we were given, it did feel a bit as though the author used a checklist of sorts to make sure all the bases were covered - one black, two gays, one mean old bat, a couple quirky artists, unruly teens, annoying bitch, etc., etc., etc. Some readers have commented that the characters become more developed in the future books, and I'm hoping that's the case. Many felt defined by typical stereotypical behaviors, and if that continues I'll just get annoyed. 

 

I liked the focus on art and bow hunting/archery. Those are areas I personally don't come across often in books so it was a refreshing plot path. I'm also not sure I've read any books set in the Quebec area, so I really enjoyed being somewhere new to me.

 

I felt the mystery was fairly well done. While I did guess correctly early on who killed Jane, and how they would figure out who did it, I didn't have the why part figured out. It did feel a bit rushed/convenient, but I'm willing to give a bit of fictional leeway there. 

 

I'll stick with the series for now. I'm hoping that I don't feel frustrated or lost so early on now that I'm used the narrator's style.

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text 2017-07-12 07:18
Wisdom
Still Life - Louise Penny,Ralph Cosham

"You need to learn that you have choices. There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?"

She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin.

"They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean." Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. "I don´t know. I need help. I´m sorry. And one other." Gamache thought for a moment but couldn´t bring it to mind. "I forget. [...]"

 

 

 

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review 2017-06-15 13:07
"Still Life - Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1" by Louise Penny
Still Life - Louise Penny

"Still Life" is a like a favourite armchair: a comfortable, familiar, structure that you relax into and become reluctant to leave.

This is a leisurely tale of murder, betrayal, art, archery and excellent croissants.

Set in a rural French Canadian village that seems to be populated by local hunters who were born there and talented but poor artists and poets who relish its bucolic charms, it involves the investigation, by a senior detective and a surprisingly large team of police officers, of the death of a local artist who has been shot through the heart by an arrow.

The tone of the book is set by the polite but unyielding authority of the most senior police officer, Inspector Gamache, a well read, softly spoken man who observes closely, thinks deeply and spends much of his time gathering information either by sitting in the local bistro/café or by sitting on a bench on the village green, watching who does what with whom.

Gamache solves the mystery by pulling at loose threads that others might miss until the deceptions hiding the killer unravel and all is revealed.

The writing is vivid without being garish. There is a strong sense of place and community. The story has the unhurried pace of a dinner party where each course is to be savoured and discussed between friends before things move on. I rather enjoyed the poetry attributed to one of the characters who turns out to be a famous Canadian poet.

The plot is a puzzle, with a satisfying number of twists and turns and a relatively small number of suspects. I worked out the killer just before their name was revealed. I take this to be a kindness on the author's part, allowing me to feel smug but not bored.

Despite being about murder, this is a gentle, reflective, cultured book that is as much about understanding the lives the villagers have constructed for themselves as it is about discovering whodunnit.

I felt that I'd taken a pleasant weekend break in a place different enough to be interesting but not so exotic as to disturb my comfort.

The first book in a series, "Still Life" left me disposed towards reading more but not passionate about getting the next book as soon as possible.

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review 2017-05-30 21:11
Really Enjoyed First Book in This Inspector Gamache Series
Still Life - Louise Penny

Thanks to all who recommended this one! It was really good. I can't wait to get my hands on book #2. This first book had a lot of twists and turns. I honestly didn't know who done it or why. But once you get to the end everything is revealed. 

 

I think this is the first book I have read that is set in Quebec. That alone intrigued me. But reading about Inspector Gamache and his methods was a lot of fun. 

 

I thought the writing at times was lyrical. And I loved how Gamache was able to just find out more by listening. He is definitely someone you want to be your mentor and the one woman who is trying to do her best to show how smart she is, who keeps showing again and again why her being in law enforcement is probably not a good fit. 

 

"Still Life" investigates the death of Jane Neal. Jane has lived in Three Pines, Quebec her whole life. A local artist who has never shown her work until now. When one of her paintings gets approved to be in a local art show, Jane is killed days later. Found in the woods and shot by a bow, there are several people who may have wanted Jane dead. Though many think it was an accident, Gamache realizes fairly early on that it was murder. 

 

I think ultimately this book was about jumping to conclusions about people based on what they say. Ultimately actions are what are important. I would love to visit this village again since we get enough foreshadowing that something evil still lurks there at the end of this book.

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review 2017-04-18 06:13
Still Life with Tornado
Still Life with Tornado - A.S. King

It has been a long time since I really connected to a book so strongly and so quickly. This book has a delightful amount of magical realism but still has such a real and raw feeling to it that I could really related to and I could see 16 year old me in 16 year old Sarah, I can see my family in Sarah's family. I love the way King slowly brings us in and reveals the layers of the story. I went into this book really blind and I think that maybe the best way to read King's work.  I'm excited to pick up more from her, and I'm so glad that I can finally mark her off of my Authors to read list. 

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