THE BRUTAL TELLING, Louise Penny
Minotaur Books, 2009
Reviewed by Larry W. Chavis
One way for a great reading experience to occur is when a reader approaches a book skeptically, then is completely won over by the end. This was one such book for me. I had always heard good things about Louise Penny's Three Pines novels, but assumed they weren't my cup of tea. Winning this one from the LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program (thought the three months it took to arrive pretty much makes moot the "early" part of that) has turned me completely about.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec heads up the investigation of the murder of an apparent stranger in the small village of Three Pines, an hour or so from Montreal, in the forest. Not only do none of the villagers profess to know the victim, he apparently was murdered elsewhere and his body moved to the local bistro where it is found. The deftly-woven plot explores the lives and motives of the somewhat off-beat inhabitants of the village with enough twists and turns to keep one guessing.
Chief Inspector Gamache is an excellent lead investigator, intelligent, observant, and yet thoughtful and kind in his actions toward those around him. He seems singularly free of the common-place devils that plague so many other police detectives in fiction, and yet comes across as a fully-realized character. I very much enjoyed meeting him in THE BRUTAL TELLING, and hope to deepen our acquaintance soon.