Still Life by Louise Penny

still life

The first in a series of books about Inspector Gamache, these mysteries are set in Montreal, Canada, and surrounding areas. In this first book, Gamache finds himself in a tiny town called Three Pines after a beloved local woman is shot with an arrow. At first it seems like a hunting accident, but as the clues add up and the secrets of the small town start to leak out, it seems like it’s a case of murder.

My sister in law recommended this book series to me because it’s set in Canada, and I was looking for Canadian reads in the midst of my big move here. In a lot of ways, it’s a cozy mystery, that is, a genre of mysteries that focus on characters, relationships and puzzle, rather than on salacious sex or violence. Books like these will never give you nightmares, and they are often quite light.

I liked the central character of Inspector Gamache. He’s interesting, honest and compassionate, but also feels like a real person. I liked his relationship with his wife, which wasn’t a major part of the book, but was a nice touch. The book focused on him as the lead investigator of the crime, but moved between other characters too, allowing us into the life of the small town. Its an even paced story, with colourful characters, and evokes a sense of place really nicely.

A lot of cozy mysteries are fun, but a bit silly. And a lot of modern crime novels can be overly violent and dark. This book feels like it it sits happily in between. It’s entertaining a fairly light read, and yet it’s really enjoyable. A nice detective story with a beautiful setting.

Read It If: you like old school detective stories, it’s a nice read that hits the spot without being overly heavy. A good holiday read perhaps.

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