Customer Reviews for

Still Life (Armand Gamache Series #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

28 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

More than just a mystery...

Penny is Canadian, lives in Quebec, and that's her setting. Her detective is Armand Gamache, chief inspector of an elite branch of the state police in charge of investigating murders. Gamache believes the seeds that lead to murder are planted in the murderer's past, som...
Penny is Canadian, lives in Quebec, and that's her setting. Her detective is Armand Gamache, chief inspector of an elite branch of the state police in charge of investigating murders. Gamache believes the seeds that lead to murder are planted in the murderer's past, something emotional that most people would get over but in this particular individual, they remain and fester and eventually lead to the person committing a murder. The investigation, therefore, has to involve getting to know all those involved and delving back into the suspects' and victim's past to find the cause that eventually led to the murder.

Her setting is the very small and seemingly idyllic village of Three Pines. It is not shown on any map; those who find it do so either by accident or while exploring randomly in the area south of Montreal but still north of the border with the USA. The village is home to artists and poets, very interesting characters.

Penny is brilliant at including all the detail - when they eat, you get hungry - and presenting very interesting characters. Some of them feel that Three Pines is a sort of Brigadoon, the Scots village that magically appeared on earth for only a single day many years apart - a magical place apart from the rigors and ups and downs of the rest of the world. And yet, it is the site of murders which bring Chief Inspector Gamache and his eclectic team of investigators in to delve into everyone's lives because in Three Pines everyone is involved in all that goes on.

Highly recommended. This work and the entire series.

posted by barrya on May 14, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

41 out of 92 people found this review helpful.

Very disappointed, Poorly researched

I don't usually write reviews on books, but I had to this time. This is one of the worst books I've picked up in a very long time. Rarely do I ever put a book down without finishing it, but this time I did, and it went straight into the trash. The author really shoul...
I don't usually write reviews on books, but I had to this time. This is one of the worst books I've picked up in a very long time. Rarely do I ever put a book down without finishing it, but this time I did, and it went straight into the trash. The author really should have done more research. If you know anything at all about archery, or if you are a hunter of any kind, you will probably find this book quite irritating. The author spent a whole chapter supposedly explaining different types of bows, arrows, tips, and "feathers," and in the process made very general statements about the equipment that are simply wrong. Considering the murder being investigated was committed with a bow and arrow, she should at least have tried to get her terminology right, and learn something about the murder weapon. The author also has a problem with hunting, which she makes abundantly clear with ridiculous stereotypes, painting all hunters with a broad brush as all being mindless, blood-thirsty, illiterate, poaching criminals who would just leave someone on the ground to die in the event of an accidental shooting. If you're into mindless tripe, this is the book for you. If you're looking for a well-written thriller of a detective story, don't waste your time and money on this book.

posted by ktfite on May 10, 2010

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  • Posted November 26, 2011

    Cozy Mystery - Highly Recommended

    As a huge fan of Agatha Christie's mysteries, I see why this author is so often compared to Christie. This was a cozy, small-town murder mystery story with a fascinating cast of characters. Gamache is an excellent portrayal of a modern-day Hercule Poirot. But the story has it's own voice and it's own flow, seperate from Christie mysteries, which allows it to stand on its own. Some say the story began to slowly, but I see that as a necessity when beginning a series. The background needs to be developed, as do the major characters. In all of the set-up, there were certain moments of humor that really breathed life into these characters. There is also a deep understanding of human psychology by the author, that allowed her to create very realistic actions and thought processes, not to mention the interactions among the characters. This was much more than a simple murder-mystery. There are seven stories in total in this series and I cannot wait to read them all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Wonderful read!

    It is great to find a book that is fun to read pluse is well written.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Short escapism mystery.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    First in the series

    This 1st book in the series made me want to order more in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    A Great Update to the Murder Mystery "Cozy"

    I've always enjoyed the murder mystery cozy genre, but it's hard to find them written as in the present day. Still Life is just what I've been looking for. The main character, Armand Gamache, is very well developed and a very interesting fellow. And, the murderer was pretty tough to pinpoint until the very end. As each clue was brought to light through Gamache's interviews with the other characters, I kept changing my mind as to who the killer might be...very well written. I can't wait to read #2 in the series! I also enjoyed discovering a little bit about Montreal and surrounding villages, where the series is set.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2011

    Very enjoyable

    Interesting characters in a non-traditional setting. Wonderful series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    This book was fun, reminds me of Agatha Christi. Would not want it all of the time, but is a nice break from the on edge murder msyteries. No blood or guts. Just a good old murder mystery. First time I have read this authur. Have already down loaded the # 2. Would not mind my grandaughter reading it.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    A new author to me, I went back and bought her second in the series.

    I've been to Quebec skiing, and enjoyed reading about the people and the area again. It takes place in a small, out-of-the-way town near Montreal with talented transplants as residents. There was a twist at the end that I wasn't expecting. A nice, decent murder mystery for a rainy day. I enjoyed it.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a village like Three Pines...ahhh

    This murder mystery was beautifully crafted leaving the reader completely baffle until the end. The descriptions of the area were so realistic that you wonder if there really is a village like Three Pines. The characters are well fleshed out and contribute tremendously to the storytelling. I listened to the audio version of this book and it was excellent. The narrator had a voice that resonated mystery while carrying off the accents with real panache. I definitely am gong to be looking for another in this series.

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    Posted October 30, 2011

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