The Brutal Telling
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Quill & Quire
“In the end the answer to a murder investigation was always devastatingly simple. It was always right there, obvious. Hiding in facts and evidence and likes, and the misperceptions of the investigators.” These sentences, from The Brutal Telling, more or less sum up the appeal of Louise Penny’s crime novels, set in the fictional Quebec village of Three Pines, a normally sleepy place that wakes up to homicide on an annual basis. This time around, Penny’s endearing police detective, Armand Gamache, and his investigative team from the Sûreté du Québec are summoned to find out why an elderly gentleman’s body lies inside the popular (and only) café in town, and why the café’s owner, Olivier Brule, seems to know more than he’s letting on about the nameless drifter. As in her previous four Inspector Gamache mysteries, Penny grafts a suspenseful whodunit onto her sketch of the whims and mores of Three Pines’ small population. She illuminates how Gamache and his fellow investigators will find the culprit: “Not by DNA tests and petri dishes, ultra-violet scans or anything else a lab could produce,” but by old-fashioned legwork and teamwork. Penny also explores why the allure of being a resident of Three Pines tantalizes city dwellers seeking refuge in a tiny rural community: “The reason ‘belonging’ was so potent, so attractive, so much a part of the human yearning, was that it also meant safety, and loyalty. If you were ‘one of us’ you were protected.” The flip side, as Penny has proven many times over, is that those who belong may also seek to protect unsavoury sorts who have long been part of the community fabric. This notion has paid off in previous books, and does likewise here. But one wonders how much longer Penny can spin stories of murder in Three Pines – how many more killers can be protected and then unmasked – before Cabot Cove syndrome sets in. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
“Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie, [but] it sells her short.” --"Booklist "(starred review) “An intricate, almost mythic plot, superb characters, and rich, dark humor.” "--People" “Magic . . . [with] an elegance and depth not often seen.”" --The New York Times Book Review "“If you don’t give your heart to Gamache, you may have no heart to give.” --"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review) “A treat for the mind and a lesson for the soul, this is a novel full of surprises.” --"Richmond"" Times-Dispatch" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Would have been better if some of the older book titles did not change could have avoided buying duplicates.
Now, I don't give these a 5, just for a few little details: as a Quebecer, I've raised the occasional eyebrow at what I (mistakenly or not) have deemed to be errors in factual information, as well as in some of the French translations. And some of the leaps in logic and rationale seem a bit stretched. And I have occasionally found the books a tad repetitive. Yet, these are insignificant details, as these are novels, not documentaries, and, I've had to admit to myself, for the most part, I can use the repetition, as I would probably get a bit lost without it.
These small negatives are, to me, by far overshadowed by: the familiarity of the Quebec setting, the time we spend with the characters taking in the beauty of their surroundings, eating wonderful meals, and enjoying the company of good people. Who are caught up in a battle against a shadowy evil. Do I cross a line if I say the series has a bit of a Tolkienesque vibe? I adored "The Lord of the Rings" for the beauty of its world, and the depth, kindness, imperfection, and camaraderie of its characters. And so I adore these books. Maybe I should give them a 5.
This is the first I've read of Penny, but apparently its not her first novel in the small Quebec backwoods village of Three Pines, nor is it the first adventure with Inspector Gamache. Gamache is a unique detective in the genre, and I think most readers will appreciate how he is fleshed out. Unfortunately, too many of the other characters are not really fleshed out convincingly. The main way we learn about the characteristics of others is through comments from other characters; when we're with the characters in the flesh, so to speak, we typically don't see evidence of "kindness", "greed" or any other attributes they allegedly possess. The puzzle is the focus here, and the characters main purpose is to arrange themselves in position around that puzzle. This is not to say that Penny is a poor writer; far from it. Readers who appreciate a little literary taste with their mystery will get along fine here, I think. Penny enjoys poetry and incorporates it into her novel as the story unwinds.
Unwinding is the right word, too . . . lies are slowly peeled away until ultimately the brutal truth is exposed. Incidentally, the inside cover blurb is misleading in that it makes the novel sound like a horror novel - it is nothing of the sort. This is classic detective fiction with a unique spin, but not so that you can't recognize it.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
An amazing story teller !! I hate coming to the end of the book, I just enjoy reading them so much.Published 1 month ago by hooked on books
What an intrigue! She takes us thru intricacies of the art world, the unfanthomable complexities of the human spirit and the evil which lurks in each character.Published 2 months ago by Francine
One of the key characters unrobed and disclosed. Say it isn't so, however, new mentor revealed...Great read and personal insightPublished 5 months ago by cathy
Captivating from start to finish, as is the whole series of Gamache novels.Published 9 months ago by Elizabeth Laroche