Sunday, April 28, 2019

Still Life by Louise Penny

When three of my friends, two librarians and one lawyer, posted on Facebook that they had attended a book lecture by Louise Penny, I figured that I was missing something. And so, I borrowed the first of her Inspector Gamache novels and read away. Yes, I was definitely missing something, a page turner and absolutely delightful read. 

The action takes place in Three Pines, what seems to be a quaint Quebec village. The town is shocked by the death of one of its most upstanding and lovely residents, Jane Neal. Her body was found in the woods with an arrow piercing her heart by Ben Hadley. For most of the residents, it appeared to be a hunting accident, but the team of investigators led by Armand Gamache doesn't buy into that theory. Jane has just had a painting accepted into the opening of the Arts Williamsburg. Fair Day is a depiction of the annual fair and includes portraits of the villagers. Clara Morrow, Jane's best friend, also reveals that the painted was finished just about the time of another villager, Timmer's death. Add another cause for Gamache's suspicion.  

At this point, no one is about to be left out of the questioning and when Matthew Croft seems anxious during his interview, Gamache and his second in command, Jean Guy Beauvoir, decide to search the Croft home. In the basement they find an arrowhead with Jane's blood and a bow that was about to be burned in the furnace. The Croft's son, Phillip, becomes the leading suspect until his father confesses. But the story doesn't fit and Gamache refuses to arrest him, an action that has him removed from the case. 

Enter Yolande, Jane's money hungry niece. Yolande feels that she is the rightful heir to the home and Jane's belongings and moves right in. There is something quite fishy about this and effort is expended on finding the will that would prove this. Unfortunately, for Yolande, Jane's will was changed and now the house becomes open to the investigating team. They find the reason that no one was ever able to pass from the kitchen into the living area of the house while Jane was alive. It is there that the clue to the real murderer is found. 

This was a fascinating who dun it book and I believe that I have found an author who will help fill the void left by P.D.James in my quest for good mysteries. Penny is a cerebral writer and if her subsequent books are half as good as Still Life, I will be content. She is popular, placing a hold for the next in the series of 16 so far, yields an 8 week wait.