Book Reviews of Still Life

Still Life
Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
ISBN-13: 9780755328895
ISBN-10: 0755328892
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Pages: 312
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.

4.3 stars, based on 7 ratings
Publisher: Headline Book Company
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

44 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Still Life on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
The surprising death of a local spinster brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his officers to the small Canadian village of Three Pines.

This is the author's first novel and I'm really looking forward to reading the second one. Gamache reminds me a little of Maigret and I enjoyed the Three Pines village setting, the writing, and the characters.
reviewed Still Life on + 69 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Set in a charming English-speaking village in Quebec. Characters are well drawn. Most are likeable. Of course, some are not. -- And they are well developed in their not-likeable-ness. In the next books in the series we learn that some characters are not who/what they seem. This book won award(s). I bought it because one of my favorite booksellers recommended it, and I liked the author. Mood and setting are lovely. This book was good enough that I read the next in the series. (Warning: for the 2nd book, and for the upcoming [Fall 2008] 4th book, U.S. title is different from Canadian title.) I liked the 2nd and 3rd books more than the first.
Good cozy with rich atmosphere, well-developed characters.
reviewed Still Life on
Helpful Score: 3
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The character development was excellent, and the ending totally caught me by surprise. I'll definitely read all of Penny's other books.
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Helpful Score: 2
Following other good reviews I read this book. Unfortunately, much of the plot line at the end is marred by lack of knowledge on the part of the author. WIthout spoilers, she makes many incorrect or outlandish statements to fit her desired ending. Taking time, researching what you're writing about is the least that a good author can do.
It really is a shame because her character development for Inspector Gamache is great. The inspector is a character that as a reader you want to follow.
reviewed Still Life on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Oh, what a great book! I FELL right into it.
I am always happy to find an ongoing series. The murder is only the beginning of a series of events, which literally chill us, and cause us to think deeply.
The other plot of Gamache's "downfall" is also explored, and woven expertly into the murder investigation. Great characters, both the local residents and the murder investigation team. Great settings. My only quibble would be - the food descriptions make me want to go right to Three pines and settle in and eat and eat and eat.
Best book I've read all year!
reviewed Still Life on + 64 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the first in a series and a great kick off to the series. Set in Canada, small village outside of Quebec, it has a variety of characters and the police officers are thoughtful and individualistic. There are a number of insightful conversations that occur between characters that raise this mystery above the routine "cozy".
reviewed Still Life on + 169 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I thought that this book was interesting, thought-provoking, and highly-entertaining. Its deceptive style masks a complex but well devised plot. I enjoy Armand Gamache and his way of solving the crime. I would definitely recommend this first book in the series and I am looking forward to reading the next couple of books.
reviewed Still Life on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is like a modern version of Agatha Christie: a charming village, interesting characters, and murder. This is Penny's first book and I found that she found her rhythm about half way through. The book started snapping along and her sense of humour emerged. Highly recommend and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.
reviewed Still Life on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I suppose this book would come under the heading of "cozy murder mystery," but that really leaves a lot unsaid. This entire series is interesting, thought-provoking, and highly-entertaining. It seems to me a lot of authors who used to be among my favorites have started just phoning it in and I've had lots of reading disappointments in recent years. This series continues to delight me. #4 will soon be out in paperback.
There is a large cast of characters. So far, all books have been set in Three Pines, although the police team comes from Montreal. By now, I feel that I'm getting to know 9 or 10 people fairly well and am eager to spend more time with them.
I heartily recommend this whole series.

Best Wishes
reviewed Still Life on + 47 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an excellent first read (of this author) for me. The characters were all vivid and the flavor of this lovely community made me yearn to visit Canada again. I can see that Armande Gamache will prove an intersting personality as he "detects" his way through the next books in the series. I certainly wish my knowledge of French words was more extensive as several references in the books were a mystery to me and it would have been helpful if the English translation had been included, but, that aside, a truly worth-while read.

Mary Ruth
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Helpful Score: 1
Interesting first novel in the Three Pines mysteries. I found the plot interesting, really had little idea about who had murdered Jane Neal. I found it difficult to get the feel of the town and the main characters. Perhaps the fact that I am not familiar with the rural Quebec theme and found several references to traditions, etc. different colored this. I liked the book, but did not love it. I may go on and read the second book, but I'm not sure. To me it pushes the boundaries on being a true cozy mystery, which I prefer to read.
reviewed Still Life on
Helpful Score: 1
WONDEFUL book! I don't usually read murder mystery novels, but the setting of this one so intrigued me, I went ahead. The writing is inspired & charmingly descriptive, the character development is terrific, the characters themselves affable. Made me want to jump in my car & drive to Three Pines, Québec! And the ending... surprising; the mark of a great mystery novel, I suppose. :)
I would read one of Louise Penny's novels again in a heartbeat.
reviewed Still Life on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
We used this book for our book club and found it to be very well done. What a great job. Characters were described well and the reader really got to enjoy the environment and the plot. I also loved the fact that this writer tied up all the loose ends. I have gone on to continue to read the other books in this series and believe they have only gotten better.
reviewed Still Life on + 910 more book reviews
There have been few mysteries that I haven't been able to solve before I finish the read so I tend to read the oldies - Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, etc., where at least I have a chance of being stumped. That is until, Louise Penny! A friend recommended this author and I found it was a mystery that was so intriguing that I found it difficult to put down. Indeed, I was so impatient when I came close to the end that I flipped ahead to discover who the murderer was! Yes, this is a very good read. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a wonderfully complex, ethical and human character. When he begins to investigate the murder of the elderly Jane Neal whom everyone seemed to love, I found myself walking in his footsteps. And, like Gamache, I wondered about so many of the people that seemed to be suspects - the Matthew Croft family, Peter and Clara Morrow, the boys who threw manure at Gabri and Olivier's B and B and others. Yet, Gamache kept wondering, why two elderly women died within months of each other in this small village. I plan to read more of Penny's books featuring this delightful man. A journalist who specialized in hard news and current affairs, Penny brings reams of talent to her writing.
reviewed Still Life on + 5 more book reviews
I love this series. Very endearing characters and excellent writing. I want to live in "Three Pines"!
reviewed Still Life on + 29 more book reviews
The beginning of a wonderful new series to curl up with when you have your favorite drink beside your favorite reading spot. Better yet, have a pitcher or thermos of that drink and allow several hours to read, because you won't want to put this one down!
reviewed Still Life on
An excellent rural whodunit that kept me guessing until the very end. Interesting, realistic characters and generally good writing (although the author and/or editor needs to learn the difference between "everyday" and "every day"--one of my pet peeves). A real page-turner and promising beginning to the series.
reviewed Still Life on + 22 more book reviews
My first Penny book and I am recommending it to all my reader friends.
reviewed Still Life on
Louise Penny is a very good writer and her characters are wonderful. I love learning about Canada and the way their legal system works. Now I must read all of her books.
reviewed Still Life on
This is one of my favorite books. She does an amazing job developing the characters and their relationships. The setting is beautiful, and the mystery is engaging. I can't say enough about this series!
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Inspector Gamache is a very thought-provoking character. When you read this book, you feel as if you're right inside it, not sitting on the outside reading it. This author has created a wonderful main character who, if we are paying attention, teaches us how to sit quietly, observe, and look below the surface of our world.

Simply a great first book for this series...can't wait for #2!
reviewed Still Life on
With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forcesand this serieswith power, ingenuity, and charm.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain its a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday seasonand is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
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This looks to be a very good series, based on the first installment. Good plot and interesting characters. I will be reading the next one in the series.
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This was a beautiful, quiet mystery with character development instead of action and gore. If that's what you're looking for, you'll enjoy it!
reviewed Still Life on + 40 more book reviews
Such a beautiful novel! Penny makes the characters come to life. The artwork that fills the pages becomes so real I can see it. I'm looking forward to diving into this series.
reviewed Still Life on + 4 more book reviews
I don't know why I waited so long to start this book. This wonderfully gorgeous start to the Inspector Gamache series is so well-written with enough of a twist (or two) to make this un-put-downable. Treat yourself and step into Three Pines for a break from the humdrum realities of life!
reviewed Still Life on + 51 more book reviews
For the serious mystery lover, these are pretty fluffy easy reading in the vein of chick lit. I personally prefer hard hitting murder mysteries.
reviewed Still Life on + 12 more book reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A good quick read. Interesting characters. Wonderful descriptions including one of the best paragraphs I've ever read. Without giving away the story - here is just a part of that wonderful writing -

. . .To say it clashed with the flowers would be to suggest there was a wallpaper in existence which wouldn't. Still, of all the colors and styles to have chosen, this was the worst. Up it went, like a strep throat. . .

Made me laugh out loud! Awesome writing!

I've just added the rest of this author's books to my wish list and if they don't turn uop quick - I'll be reading them on my Kindle!!
reviewed Still Life on
I thought her writing style was a bit awkward . At times I had to re-read pages to fully understand what she was getting at. The ending was also disappointing and never resolved a problem inspector Gamache was having with another officer. I was disappointed in the novel and probably not read any more of her offerings.
reviewed Still Life on + 52 more book reviews
Have you found Louise Penny yet? She creates as distinct a world as did Rex Stout in his Nero Wolfe novels, but adds layers of morality and psychological depth. Her characters are real people; you know someone just like them, just as irritating, just as human, just as sad. Add in wonderful smidgens of humor and great insight on how fine is the line between good and evil. Oh, and did I mention that on top all of that her books are great mysteries? Find this book and read it. Move to Three Pines. You'll never want to leave.
reviewed Still Life on
I had read a later Chief Inspector Gamache and wanted to start at the beginning. It was a good read with the characters being well drawn as well as an interesting plot. I will read more.
reviewed Still Life on + 268 more book reviews
The characters are well described and I love the village and Inpsector Gamache. Good book.
reviewed Still Life on + 45 more book reviews
Wonderfully written mystery in a small town in Quebec. This is the first in a series about Chief Inspector Gamache. I fell in love with the characters and the humor thrown in along with the mystery puts just the right touch on the story. Can't wait to read Book #2.
reviewed Still Life on + 5 more book reviews
Since I have been reading so many Scandinavian mysteries of the noir variety, this one came as a shock to the system. Old fashioned, quaint, certainly from a different space and time. I did enjoy Louise Penny, but will go back to my Norsk page turners.
reviewed Still Life on + 14 more book reviews
Thoughtful writing. Wonderfully human characters. Clever plot. None of these assertions reveals how thoroughly enjoyable Penny's Still Life is.
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Several weeks ago, I saw a TV piece on Louise Penny as part of CBS' Sunday Morning program. I was unfamiliar with Penny's books but after seeing the piece which showed what a large following she has, I decided I need to read some of her Gamache series. STILL LIFE is the first in the series and I found it to be very enjoyable. I'm sure Gamache has been compared to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and that the series could be lumped in with a myriad of other cozy mysteries. However, I thought the novel was much more of a literary who-dun-it. The story takes place in the small Quebec village of Three Pines that is inhabited by a cast of very memorable characters. The village itself is very quaint and hard to get to. It's locals are engaged in art, books, good food, and archery. Gamache, chief inspector for the Sûreté du Québec, the police force in Quebec, is sent to Three Pines when an elderly woman appears to have been killed in a hunting accident. But was it an accident? Gamache must wade through the evidence including a lot of false leads before he can get to the truth. The novel kept me guessing right up till the end on who the bad guy was. Overall, it was very engaging and I'm sure I'll be read more in the series.
reviewed Still Life on + 384 more book reviews
Fairly enjoyable-lots of interesting characters, fairly good story line. This is the first of Louise Penny's books I have read-I have A Fatal Grace waiting in the wings to be read. A good book to read on a chilly fall evening.
reviewed Still Life on + 138 more book reviews
I really wanted to love this mystery, as it was highly recommended by both critics and readers alike, and I follow the author's page on Facebook. I found it very slow going, with much detail about life in small Three Pines, Quebec, and various quirky characters. The main character, who is murdered, is plump, middle aged spinster Jane Neal. I did like all the parts involving Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec. The minor French language words and phrases were mostly self-explanatory, peppering the text here and there. The story developed oh-so-slowly; I thought I would never get to the end. It took me several weeks of forcing myself to continue to finally finish. This mystery won several awards and was a NY Times bestseller, but was not my cup of (chamomile) tea.
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The mystery was just okay. I'm going to read the second book in this series because the location (Quebec) is a new one for me.
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I was pulled into this book from the first two sentences:

Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round.

Isnt that a great way to start out a murder mystery?

Even though Jane is obviously dead from the very first sentence, I felt that I knew her by the end of the novel, simply from the descriptions of her by other characters as the investigation of her murder takes place. And in the meantime, were introduced to the cast of characters that will become more central to the Armand Gamache series as it continues.

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too many characters introduced at the beginning. hard to keep track of who was who.
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had already read before
reviewed Still Life on + 468 more book reviews
Guess I won't be a part of the legion of fans who adore this well received series. I've had a number of Ms. Penny's books in my TBR pile for years, but decided to finally move them to the front based on the glowing reviews. Well, her charm is lost on me. By the time I was about one third into the book, I give up on it before it induced a coma. I was bored and less than compelled to keep reading. I believe this series is labeled a "cozy". If so, they're definitely not for me. I doubt that I'll continue with the series.
reviewed Still Life on + 40 more book reviews
I borrowed this book from the library because my husband won The Brutal Telling. I thought the series looked interesting so I'm going to read all five. I really liked this book. There are a few French words scattered here & there throughout the book, and I don't know a bit of French, but I expected that. There were also a few sentences that didn't seem to make sense. I made note of one of them... "She also knew Daisy could best sauteed garlic any day and her smell would re-emerge triumphant" This is referring to Ben's dog who always smells bad. The story states that all of Ben's dogs had smelled. At the time, Ben is cooking sauteed garlic & onions, but this just doesn't make any sense to me. There are also two instances where the author used the word "smelt" instead of "smelled". I thought "smelt" meant to melt ore, but I looked it up and according to, "smelt" is in fact a past tense of "smell". It seems that I have learnt something new. LOL I can't wait to read the other four books in this series!