Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

Title: The Brutal Telling
Author: Louise Penny
ISBN: 9780312377038, Minotaur Books, 2009
Genre: Police Procedural, #5 Inspector Gamache mystery
Rating: A+

First Line: "All of them?"

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 Sureté du Québec 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?


  1. I don't know what is stopping me! I purchased her first book immediately after hearing about the wonderful setting of Three Pines. I just need to put the book on top of the TBR pile and read it! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks for this review! I'm going to have to immerse myself in the world of Three Pines! It sounds like a fantastic series : ).

  3. I was almost on the verge of passing this author up but now you write this awesome review and I just have to read this book. The publisher's synopsis sounds interesting but not like your review.

  4. I'm wondering what on Earth is stopping me too. You're the expert in this area and after that fine recommendation, I can't wait to read this one.

  5. Hello, Cathy! I'll be sure to check out this series the next time I'm in a bookstore. Too many books, too little time!

  6. can't wait to read this (A+) is impressive. I have it so soon, I will get to it.

  7. What's worse is that the first one in this series has been on my MP3 for um, over a year? I don't know what is wrong with me.

  8. If you have yet to read any of the books in this series, what on earth is stopping you?

    I read the second when I won it earlier this year. I have the first on my shelf - I am saving it as a real treat (perhaps until I have the third ready on my shelf - that would make sense to me).

  9. I need to start at the beginning of the series so I can get to this A+ book!

  10. DRAT!!!!! I swore a sacred oath not to add any more books until I've cleared my backlog. I've posted a sign on my blog, turned publishers away, lined up all my ducks ... and then I read this. I just know I would love it from the way you described it Cathy (whereas Firebird still doesn't convince me! Russia? ugh).

    Do sacred oaths count if you just read one little book?

  11. I love this series so much too, Cathy. Three Pines is almost like a character, its so lovingly rendered - and I'd move there, definitely! (Well, once they fix the little problem they have with people getting murdered.) But I realized when I read The Murder Stone that I also enjoy and admire Gamache very much - even without the presence of Three Pines, it was such a beautiful story. I'm just starting this one, and am kind of waiting for a nice stretch of time when I can sit and just savour it all at once.

  12. This is a book I've been looking at a lot lately. Can't wait to read it myself.

  13. Nothing is stopping me. I've got book one on reserve at the library for when we get there. I'm anxious to get started. I do love your enthusiasm for your A+ books.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!