Thursday, July 15, 2010
From the Shelves: Still Life
I literally finished reading this book last night and it was wonderful! The plot concerns a suspicious death in a small town in the province of Quebec. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is sent to investigate. No one can quite believe that it was murder, who would want to murder retired school teacher Jan Neal? She was, by all accounts, universally loved. Surely it had to have been a tragic hunting accident? The reader knows better of course, this is, after all, a murder mystery novel.
The plot and characters captured my attention and held on to it from start to finish. I loved the character of Gamache, and how the author was able to flush out all of the characters, even fairly minor ones, into realistic people. I found the character of Yvette Nichol, a novice detective who has a massive ego, particularly interesting and aggravating. I wonder if she will appear in any subsequent books?
The mystery was tightly crafted and full of surprises. I loved all of the subplots and twists and how everything came together. (That is one thing I can't stand, when an author introduces minor mysteries or storylines and then fails to resolve them.) It was a thoroughly original in terms of how the mystery was solved, and the motives behind the crime, and it was exceedingly well thought out.
The book also provided for me an introduction into Canadian life, or at least a segment of life in Quebec. I know very little about our great neighbor to the north, and I loved noting the differences between American police work and Canadian. (I know that this is fiction of course, but those parts have to be based in reality or no one would believe them.) And those differences are pretty substantial at times. For instance, if the police were in the home of suspected murder in the states, the parents would have had the right to demand that they leave if they didn't have a warrant, and that doesn't appear to be the case in Canada. I don't know if this is just that Canadians are less paranoid/law suit happy than Americans or if the police really do have the right to stay until they crack you. See how little I know about Canada?
My only regrets are that Jane Neal's art doesn't actually exist, and that some of the inhabitants of Three Pines, more than likely, aren't in the other books in the series. This is an extremely well done mystery, and I extend a huge thanks to Tucker for recommending it to me. Highly recommended.
Edit: Apparently, the other books in the series also take place in Three Pines! Joyful day! Poor Three Pines, you are apparently like Cabot Cove Maine.