ISBN-13: 9780312948559
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 1 May 2007
Format: Paperback, 336 pgs

Source: Personal Library

Ms. Penny introduces us Chief Inspector Armand Gamache from the Surêté du Québec in this first book of the series. The setting is a picturesque Canadian village which is named "Three Pines", whereby everyone seems to know one another in this rural, quiet countryside. Their crime rate is near to nil, since it is a small community and the villagers feel there's no need to even lock their doors; they are that trusting. Unfortunately, that trust is shattered when a dead body is found from what seems to be a tragic hunting accident. Inspector Gamache and his team are called to investigate this case. 

The villagers are shocked to learn that Jane Neal is dead. Jane was a retired schoolteacher and was well liked to the villagers. She is a quiet but observant lady, and her best friend Clara Morrow felt life had played a cruel joke to them all. After all, who would want to kill a quiet, retired schoolteacher? Inspector Gamache, however thinks otherwise. For starters, the arrow which is believed to have killed her on the spot, was never found. And reports have shown that that shot was meant to kill, but the question is, who and why? Before Jane's death, she had submitted her drawing to be considered for an exhibition. Now Jane was not an exhibitionist by nature, and not even Clara has been to her living room, so it is perplexing that she'd decided to submit her work, even if it is hideous in anyone's eyes. Surely she has a message to convey, and died because of it? 

This book is simply a page-turner. I was drawn by the mystery as well as the characterisations, in particular to Inspector Gamache. He is a very observant and patient man; he is always calm and detailed in accessing each situations and his team respect him not only of his position but also as a person overall. Even when trainee Agent Yvette Nichol is assigned to his team and apparently has sabotaged his plans a few times, Inspector Gamache gave advice to her like a mentor, and on occasions even gave her chance when she somewhat sabotaged a few of their plans. I have to confess I was never warmed up to Agent Yvette; she was too arrogant and stubborn. The relationship between Inspector Gamache, Yvette and Jean Guy Beauvoir, who's Inspector Gamache's second in command, is another factor which makes this mystery such an interesting read. 

Back to Inspector Gamache again. What I liked about him is he was a thoughtful man, above all. He believed in his instincts, and he was not intimidated nor affected by how's the systems work. And most of all, I liked it that he discusses his cases with his wife and hear her views. This not only reflects how close their relationship is but also deep down what kind of a person he is - humble, respectful and not afraid of being different. 

Can you tell I really enjoyed this book? Yes, I think Ms. Penny had written this fine story like a piece of art; the plot and details all planned and laid out beautifully, challenging her readers to find out the flaws (in this case the mystery) if scrutinised carefully. I was in awe with the story overall. And then there's the characterisations, with Inspector Gamache on the top of the list. Last and not surprisingly, this first book of the series was the winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Of course I'll be sure to check out the rest of this series. 
6 Responses
  1. jenclair Says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! I love the way Penny develops her characters as much as I love the setting and the mysteries themselves.

  2. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I loved this book! So much intrigue and then, there's the setting and the cast of characters. I'm glad to have found this series. :)

  3. I loved this one as well when I read it! I still haven't continued on with this series though which is a shame. 2015 will have to be the year! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well :)

  4. Melody Says:

    Samantha - I'm glad you loved this too! Well it's a great 1st book to the series isn't it. I can't wait to read the rest of them. :)

  5. Unknown Says:

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! This series is among my favorites, and this was one of the first books I reviewed when I started my blog. I love your wonderful description of Armand's character. Great review!

  6. Melody Says:

    Irene - I really like the lead character, Inspector Gamache. He's one reason I find this book so fascinating, aside from the story. I think a likeable character is quite important because they could determine how you like the book. Well at least it is to me. ;)

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