Reviews for Still Life
Booklist Reviews 2006 May #1
/*Starred Review*/ The residents of a tiny Canadian village called Three Pines are shocked when the body of Miss Jane Neal is found in the woods. Miss Neal, the village's retired schoolteacher and a talented amateur artist, has been a good friend to most of the townsfolk, so her loss is keenly felt. At first, her death appears to be a tragic accident--it's deer-hunting season, and it looks a stray hunter's arrow killed her. But some folks are suspicious, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Montreal Surete is called in to investigate. Accompanying Gamache are his loyal assistant Beauvoir and Yvette Nichol, a new addition to Gamache's team. The trio soon finds that the seemingly peaceful, friendly village hides dark secrets. The truth is both bizarre and shocking, even to the jaded Gamache and his team. This is a real gem of a book that slowly draws the reader into a beautifully told, lyrically written story of love, life, friendship, and tragedy. And it's a pretty darn good mystery too. This belongs in the same league with such other outstanding Canadian mysteries as Eric Wright's Charlie Salter series. ((Reviewed May 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 May #2
Three Pines, an appealing Quebecois community, is shaken by the death of a beloved longtime village schoolteacher and unsung artist.Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team find that Miss Jane Neal has been shot through the heart with an arrow. Is it a hunting accident or murder? Gamache sets up shop in the charming village B&B owned by a gay couple but is suspended when he refuses to arrest a local bowman who confesses after his sullen son is fingered for the crime. His longtime associate Beauvoir takes over while Gamache ponders the case. Jane, who never exhibited her work, had just had an astonishing folk art painting accepted for a show. Her obnoxious niece Yolande, who can't wait to get into Jane's house, gets a court order to keep the police out. Meanwhile, an equally arrogant trainee has not done her job checking wills, and a new one turns up leaving almost everything to Jane's neighbor Clara Morrow, a married artist who'd been like a daughter to Jane, whose youthful romance had been quashed by her parents. Because no one had ever been allowed past Jane's kitchen, everyone's dumbfounded to find walls, recently covered by Yolande in appalling wallpaper, full of murals. The slight difference Clara notices between the murals and Jane's painting holds the clue to her murder.Cerebral, wise and compassionate, Gamache is destined for stardom. Don't miss this stellar debut. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2006 March #1
Janet Neal is killed by someone using a bow and arrow in the woods by her home in Three Pines, Quebec. Since it is hunting season, the police do not know if her death was accidental or deliberate. Janet, a retired schoolteacher, had touched the lives of all the villagers, so her death hits them hard, especially her neighbor and friend Clara Morrow. Debut novelist Penny writes poignantly about life in a small hamlet and how the work of an artist can be misunderstood. Three Pines harbors a small colony of artists, and Penny uses poetry and the creation of art and its acceptance or rejection by the world at large as the prime mover of the story. A first-rate creator of memorable characters, Penny introduces a truly engaging sleuth in Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who is sent to investigate and in the process falls in love with Three Pines and its inhabitants. Strongly recommended for most mystery collections. [Page 71]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 May #1
Canadian Penny's terrific first novel, which was the runner-up for the CWA's Debut Dagger Award in 2004, introduces Armand Gamache of the SÃ»reté du Québec. When the body of Jane Neal, a middle-aged artist, is found near a woodland trail used by deer hunters outside the village of Three Pines, it appears she's the victim of a hunting accident. Summoned to the scene, Gamache, an appealingly competent senior homicide investigator, soon determines that the woman was most likely murdered. Like a virtuoso, Penny plays a complex variation on the theme of the clue hidden in plain sight. She deftly uses the bilingual, bicultural aspect of Quebecois life as well as arcane aspects of archery and art to deepen her narrative. Memorable characters include Jane; Jane's shallow niece, Yolande; and a delightful gay couple, Olivier and Gabri. Filled with unexpected insights, this winning traditional mystery sets a solid foundation for future entries in the series. (July) [Page 40]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.