Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Still Life

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache, book 1
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2005
Rating: 8/10

I've read a glowing review of Still Life by Carl awhile back and have been meaning to pick up the book and give it a try. I stopped by a book store on Saturday, noticed the book on the shelf, and decided it was fate. Then I read the whole book on Sunday -- staying up late to find out who's done it.

At the beginning of the book I was actually taken aback a bit by the writing style. Some of the prose is very literary for the lack of better word and felt a little pretentious to me. Here's a quote from the book to explain what I mean:
"It was a look of studied nonchalance which suited his toned body but was easily contradicted by the cord-tight tension of his stance. Jean Guy Beauvoir was loosely wrapped but tightly wound."
The descriptions are just too snappy and cheek in tongue and at first it just kept snagging on my brain. However, a few chapters in I got used to the style and just enjoyed the story.

Armand Gamache and his team are called to a small Quebec village of Three Pines to investigate the death of 
Jane Neal. I really liked the portrayal of the team and the village residents. Everyone seemed very real, multidimensional, good and flawed at the same time. We get to meet and observe together with Gamache and slowly piece the puzzle together.

I thought it was a bit strange how the investigative team entrenched themselves in the village from the very beginning. The pacing of investigation felt very different from the detective-type TV shows like Castle where everyone is running around and gunning down the suspects. Gamache's team settled down in the village, observed, had literary discussions, and by-and-by figured out who's who and what happened to Jane Neal. At the same time the pacing didn't feel slow -- things were happening and I really didn't want to put the book down.

Altogether it was a very enjoyable novel with a surprising twist at the end as a mystery ought to have. I enjoyed the setting and I really liked Gamache himself. There were also a bunch of small subplots mentioned that are likely to be key for further books in the series and I am certainly looking forward to picking up further books in this series.

1 comment:

  1. This first book certainly has some debut novel issues with it, although it was her turn of phrase that actually sucked me in early and assured me that she was going to become a favorite author. It is a bit uneven at times but there is so much there to like and enough, in my opinion, to make you want to spend more time with Gamache.

    The immersion in the village was something I'm used to seeing in various British television mysteries so that didn't surprise me much and I think it is a really nice device that serves to bring these two disparate parties (the police and the people of the village) together.