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The Brutal Telling (Armand Gamache Series #5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

A Haunting and Compelling Read!

Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling is a village mystery, but that's a little like saying the sky is blue. In the opening scene, a hermit tells Olivier Brulé that "Chaos is coming," but it isn't until the final scene that the author lets us know what the hermit mean...
Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling is a village mystery, but that's a little like saying the sky is blue. In the opening scene, a hermit tells Olivier Brulé that "Chaos is coming," but it isn't until the final scene that the author lets us know what the hermit meant. The setting of the mystery is Three Pines, a lovely village about an hour from Montreal that earns its name from three pine trees near the center of town. Everyone knows everyone else in this little town, but that knowledge is challenged when the hermit turns up dead on the floor of Olivier Brulé's bistro. No one will admit that they knew the dead man, at least at first. No one can understand why the body ended up in the bistro.
The story includes a diverse group of people, besides a few French and English Canadians, Czech immigrants, Canadian Indians, artists, and many more. The characters come alive through the pages. The not-so-idiotic village idiot with her pet duck, Rosa, papers the investigators with poems. The quiet, but furious struggle between the young couple refurbishing the local mansion and Olivier Brulé and his partner, Gabriel, with their bed and breakfast and pub rumbles in the background. Was the hermit a Czech national? The Czech couple who settled in the village deny any knowledge of him. When you finally close the book, you realize how deeply connected you are to the characters. It is difficult to let them go.
Although unobtrusive, the description of the settings resonate long after you turn the last page. When you finally understand the solution to the complex puzzle, you will feel as though you have lived it along with Chief Inspector Gamache. A truly haunting novel. A great read!

posted by cvjacobs on September 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

The body is good but the ending is disconnected

The journey was enjoyable, but the solution was horrid. It's like expecting a fudge jelly bean & finding out that it was a dirt bean from a bertie botts pack

posted by NanoEther on April 3, 2012

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Haunting and Compelling Read!

    Louise Penny's The Brutal Telling is a village mystery, but that's a little like saying the sky is blue. In the opening scene, a hermit tells Olivier Brulé that "Chaos is coming," but it isn't until the final scene that the author lets us know what the hermit meant. The setting of the mystery is Three Pines, a lovely village about an hour from Montreal that earns its name from three pine trees near the center of town. Everyone knows everyone else in this little town, but that knowledge is challenged when the hermit turns up dead on the floor of Olivier Brulé's bistro. No one will admit that they knew the dead man, at least at first. No one can understand why the body ended up in the bistro.
    The story includes a diverse group of people, besides a few French and English Canadians, Czech immigrants, Canadian Indians, artists, and many more. The characters come alive through the pages. The not-so-idiotic village idiot with her pet duck, Rosa, papers the investigators with poems. The quiet, but furious struggle between the young couple refurbishing the local mansion and Olivier Brulé and his partner, Gabriel, with their bed and breakfast and pub rumbles in the background. Was the hermit a Czech national? The Czech couple who settled in the village deny any knowledge of him. When you finally close the book, you realize how deeply connected you are to the characters. It is difficult to let them go.
    Although unobtrusive, the description of the settings resonate long after you turn the last page. When you finally understand the solution to the complex puzzle, you will feel as though you have lived it along with Chief Inspector Gamache. A truly haunting novel. A great read!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    AMAZING!

    The Brutal Telling is a complex tale of treasures and greed. It all takes place in a charming little village populated by unusual characters you will grow to appreciate and love. I love Penny's intricate weaving of history and storyline. At the end of this mesmerizing book, the village of Three Pines will never be the same, but there is hope. The main characters were fascinating, the setting was unusual and intriguing, and there were mysteries galore to hold your interest. The first scene is one of the best hooks I've read in a while! I highly recommend!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Louise Penny is a masterful novelist!

    Through this author I have come to love the Armand Gamache series, the village of Three Pines and all of its lovable and enduring characters. When I first discovered Louise Penny it was in her book A RULE AGAINST MURDER, and then I went back and read all the previous Armand Gamache books. I have to say I feel almost mortally wounded to have this book end the way it did, with one of the most "real" characters being taken away. Unless there is some kind of redemption for this character in the next book, I'm not sure how I will feel. This story would have been perfect if a more disposable character would've been fingered. I think I'm in mourning.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    A visit to Quebec with friends whom I've met before

    I have gobbled up all five of Louise Penny's tales of murder in the last month. I enjoy the ambiance of her quiet Quebec village and the familiar presence of the village people. I love the easy back and forth between the English and French languages and the background of the historical struggle between the two cultures. I find the folks very multi-faceted and human. I love to see how the people of all proclivities, talents, and flaws interact and behave among each other. Louise Penny truly knows the feelings and behaviors of real people in the real world and manages very easily to translate those articulately into her created universe.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Tell Me More

    Bon Dieu! How is it that I have not found this author before? "The Brutal Telling", by Louise Penny, is more than just a detective story. It is a literary novel. This work blends the lives of the characters and the reader by speaking to the souls of both. As in all great literature, the characters come to life through the words of the author, quickly becoming more than just the written word. The characters, such as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, are completely developed people, full of life. Each acting and reacting to the other characters in the novel. Have no doubt, this mystery novel leads us through a perplexing mystery surrounding the violent death of stranger in the small Canadian town of Three Pines. This is not the first time the Inspector and his team of Seretes investigators have been called to this out of the way place. Emotions run high as both long time friends and newcomers are brought under suspicion. If the earlier novels of this series are anything like this, I'll be hot on their trail.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

    Well done!

    The characters are like meeting with old friends. The conversation is real and what is left unsaid is understood.

    Whether the characters are good or bad you can understand their thought processes.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    Keeps you guessing.

    Most enjoyable and keeps you thinking to solve the problem. Moves along smoothly and presents material which develops knowledge about areas few know.

    Would recommend to those who want to learn as well as have enjoyment.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    Don't miss this compelling story....

    Louise Penny is my new favorite mystery author. I eagerly awaited "The Brutal Telling", #5 in her Inspector Gamache series and her first hardcover release and I was not disappointed. Ms. Penny is a storyteller extraodinaire. The characters are well drawn, complex and interesting - not only Inspector Armand Gamache, but his team and the villagers of Three Pines, Quebec, that we have come to know in the previous books. She is faultless in her plotting and characterization...but ultimately it is the way she tells her story and the cleverness of the story itself that draws the reader in...and doesn't let go until the last page is turned. The death of a mysterious stranger in the woods outside Three Pines brings Inspector Gamache and his team back to the village, where the deepest secrets of the hearts of the inhabitants are slowly revealed against the backdrop of the telling of an amazing story.....I don't want to reveal anything crucial....give yourself a gift, buy this book and settle down for a most enjoyable time....

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    I hope this series never ends!

    Louise Penny's fifth novel "The Brutal Telling" is her first for me. I am so glad B&N recommended this book. I enjoyed it so much I promptly bought her 4 other novels. Each novel gets better and better. I am looking forward to her next Chief Inspector Gamache novel.

    I don't know what I enjoy most about these wonderful mysteries - the Chief Inspector, his team, the village of Three Pines or the characters inhabiting it.

    Ms. Penny's descriptions of county life, food, and art, as well as her insights on human nature, are right on the money. She shares knowledge about the history of Quebec and Canada in a very entertaining way. The mystery keeps you guessing and I changed my mind a few times as to whom the culprit was.

    Also, her depiction of the Gamache "family" which includes wife, children, grandchildren and his Team made Chief Inspector Andre Gamache one of the most endearing characters I've read about in a long time.

    Thank you B&N for recommending this book. If you enjoy mysteries, great characters, and a setting that makes you wish you were there, check out the Chief Inspector Gamache Novels.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    COMPLEX STORYLINE THAT MAKES YOU THINK EVEN WHEN NOT READING!

    This is a haunting tale full of secrets and lies. Yet another wonderful cozy setting in a Canadian Village. I was laughing one minute and scratching my head the next...COMPELLING REAL LIFE FLAWED CHARACTERS and and a thought-provoking, complex storyline that makes you think, even when you're not reading! Wonderful!

    Two more books on my "shelf of Treasures"...THE HELP ,by K. Stockett and EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by L. Pirrung

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2009

    VERY VERY GOOD!

    I haven't read a mystery for a long while as I was starting to get very bored with all of them, but I picked this book up because it was a "B&N Recommendation" and I am so glad that I did. This was not only the best book I've read for months, but it was an excellent mystery too! I couldn't wait to get home to continue and was sorry when it was finished.
    I ran right out and bought the first 4 installments of Louise Penny's Inspector Armand Gamache series.
    Louise Penny's stories are a treat.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Stunning Work

    A man's body has been found in the bistro of Three Pines village. No one knows who this man is, what he is doing in the village or who could have been involved in his death. Inspector Armand Gamache and his team descend on the village to discover what has happened and who is responsible.


    Gamache and his team have been to Three Pines before and they know the people. There is Ruth, a famous poet who now is a bitter old woman who seems half mad. Olivier and Gabri are a gay couple that run the bistro. Myrna is a former psychologist who now runs a second-hand bookstore. The Parras are members of the refuge Czech settlement. Peter and Clare are artists, with Clare about to break out and become famous. The Gilberts are the newcomers in town. They have bought a ruined house above the village and are turning it into a luxury hotel and spa, a move that doesn't endear them to the village regulars.


    As the case progresses, the team discovers that the man had lived as a hermit in the woods surrounding the village. No one there had known of his existence, except for the person who had supplied his needs. As the police investigate, his cabin yields marvels. It is full of heirlooms, true treasures from all over the world. These are marvelous items; items from the courts of Europe as well as fabulous art objects. How did this hermit come to have these treasures and who was he? The hermit himself was a gifted woodcarver and his mystery is solved as his sculptures are found and give up their clues about their creator.


    Louise Penny is the most exciting find of the year for me. Her book is intricate and the plot is complex. Each character is fully developed, and the reader sees how each interacts with all those around them. As the book progresses, the reader discovers each person's strengths and their foibles, and how their characteristics have caused the events that have resulted in the murder. This book is recommended for mystery readers; especially those who enjoy authors such as Elizabeth George and P.D. James. This is an exquisite book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a super whodunit

    In Three Pines, Quebec, the murdered corpse of an unidentified elderly male is found in a bistro. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates the death in which no one seems to know who the person is. Armand finds a cabin in the woods that allegedly was used by the old dead man. However, the shocker is what is inside the remote edifice. The CI sees a virtual treasure trove of first edition books to items that vanished during WWII.

    The prime suspect is the bistro owner, Oliver. However Armand believes that is too simple a solution as the body conveniently ended up there; whereas Oliver would have killed the victim elsewhere and looted the cabin assuming that is the motive. The CI begins to dig deeper in an attempt to find the truth as summer turns to fall.

    The latest Quebec village police procedural (see A RULE AGAINST MURDER and THE CRUELEST MONTH) is a super whodunit as Armand feels strongly that the prime suspect is innocent but the clues seem to prove his guilt. The story line is driven by his investigation, but enhanced by a strong support cast of villagers. Fans will enjoy this terrific entry in what is one of the better mystery series.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    wonderfu

    great characters rich and deep plot

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Do not miss "The Brutal Telling" by Louise Penny

    All of Louise Penny's books are much more than simple mysteries. They are explorations of the human spirit. This novel is darker than her others, but the truth of her characters and the way their lives interweave remain as always. And Gamache's wisdom is forever satisfying.
    As you read, you will find yourself putting the book down from time to time to ponder over the wisdom and insight of this remarkable author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    the brutal telling

    I enjoyed the 5th in the Armand Gamache series. Louise Penny's cast of characters is an endearing albeit off beat lot. It amazes me that she is able to construct another story within the framework of the tight knit community of Three Pines. It is a testament to her ability as a writer. I hope Armand and Three Pines stays around a long time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Another great Louise Penny book

    This was my mystery clubs selection for December. great book, but not happy with the ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great story, characters with depth and an unconventional ending.

    Louise Penny is a new writer, but it feels like a cozy Agatha Christie or a morally challenging Anne Perry. There is depth to the characters and the story line reveals something new each time whether about people and how we relate to each other or a unique experience like being an artist or a marginalized people. I will not spoil the story by providing details (and those can be found when reading the publisher reviews anyway), but I will say that you will enjoy Armand, Marie, Clara and Peter and even Ruth, the odd one out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    As A Mystery Buff, I Loved this book

    All around good read...Plot, characters, setting. If I HAD to pick a faul twith the book I'd say the length. I'd like this book a bit shorter but this is nit-picking. Great Read! Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    vdry good

    going to read another book by same author

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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