One of the best places in the literary world to live is Three Pines, Louise Penny's Canadian version of Shangri-La. The friendships there are strong and deep-- better than most people's family lives. Peter and Clara the artists, Myrna the bookshop owner, Ruth the curmudgeonly poet, Olivier and Gabri the bistro and B&B owners are all people I have come to know over the course of this series. Their strengths, their weaknesses, how they support each other during difficult times-- I feel as though these "people" have let me into their homes and into their hearts.
I have been completely absorbed into Louise Penny's world.
It is a shock when Myrna discovers a dead body in Olivier's bistro. When renowned Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is summoned to investigate, I knew all would be well. Gamache, a man of infinite wisdom and infinite kindness, knows how to get to the bottom of things:
"But one of the first lessons the Chief had taught Beauvoir when he'd joined the famed homicide department of the SuretÃ© du QuÃ©bec was that to catch a killer they didn't move forward. They moved back. Into the past. That was where the crime began, where the killer began. Some event, perhaps long forgotten by everyone else, had lodged inside the murderer. And he'd begun to fester."
The body having been found in the bistro, the first suspect is Olivier, but as Gamache's team spreads out and begins their search for facts, the suspect pool becomes much deeper. There are the strangers who've bought the old Hadley house and are turning it into a swanky hotel and spa. And what about the Czech family who lives nearby? The murder victim himself is very difficult to identify, but as more and more tiny pieces of the puzzle come together the more things keep pointing back to Olivier.
The Brutal Telling is a complex tale of treasures and greed. It all takes place in a comfortable, charming village populated by fully fleshed characters I've grown to appreciate and, in some instances, to love. First and foremost, I do love Penny's intricate weaving together of place, of history, and of character. And I love how she is not afraid to tear the village and the people she has created asunder...and then to put them back together again. At the end of this mesmerizing book, the village of Three Pines will never be the same, but there is hope. There is always hope.
The one vision that has remained with me since turning the last page is of the cranky old poet. There Ruth stands out on the village green, looking up into the sky at Rosa...a trail of bread crumbs falling from her fingers into the grass. Reading Louise Penny is a bit like becoming Hansel or Gretel. Penny's world is so complete, so magical, that I feel as though I need to mark a trail somehow so that I can find my way back out.
If you have yet to read any of the books in this series, what on earth is stopping you?
I've never read any of the other books in this series, nor have I read anything by this author, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm also not a regular visitor into the world of mysteries. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. Louise Penny does a great job of developing her characters and making you feel like you really know them, rather than just reading about them. I was hooked from the very first chapter and eager to find out how it would all play out!