4. - 517.) The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny – I have neither read a more brilliant nor a more frustrating mystery. The plot unfolds with wonderful twists. A stranger is found dead in Olivier and Gabri’s bistro. Chief Inspector Gamache probes Three Pines and the villagers. Who was this stranger? Where did he come from? Patient investigation involves the Gilbert family. They have purchased the Hadley home, a place of sacrifice and horror, and transformed it into a beautiful inn and spa about to be opened. While the physical clues are discovered and carefully assessed Gamache delves ever deeper into the psyches of the villagers. Though they live amidst a perfectly beautiful community each is flawed, still they persevere in their life journeys. Olivier, Gabri, Myrna, Peter, Clara and Ruth become more alive and grow from previous books. Having just read Talking About Detective Fiction I thought of P.D. James comments that characters were rarely developed in the Golden Age of mysteries between the World Wars as plot was the focus. In contrast, a Gamache mystery is rich in character development. This mystery is a wonderful blend of plot and character study. Ruth’s poetry is reminiscent of Adam Dagleish. In each mystery the poetry enhances the story. The solution has a terrible inevitability yet leaving the reader praying it will not be true, that there will be a Hollywood twist in the final few pages to reveal a different killer. I thought of John Le Carre’s recent novels with powerful characters whose fates are often grim but where Le Carre often leaves me in despair Penny’s mysteries leave with me hope in human and institutional character. I will never presume a future Gamache mystery will have a conventional ending. Yet I was deeply frustrated during the reading. I could not accept there would be a cabin built and a hermit living unknown within a 20 minute walk of the village. Having grown up near a small community in Saskatchewan it is not possible someone can build and live that close without being known. Beyond the explorations of community members the cutting and burning of wood are impossible to miss or be disguised. I was distracted for much of the book as all the characters denied knowledge of what had to be known. I could not suspend disbelief when the remaining material clues were credible. It would have been different in a fantasy but Three Pines is rooted in the real world of rural Canada. I wish the hermit’s existence had been known. His life and the interior of his cabin could still have been revealed during the mystery. The book is best read with the next in the series, Bury Your Dead, as a two part book. (Jan. 17/10)
- Bill Selnes
- Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
- I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.