If you are looking for a series you have not yet read, I suggest you pick up Still Life, a Chief Inspector Gamache novel, by Canadian author Louise Penny. You will not be disappointed.
As with many series it seems like a good idea to start with first one published. I did not because #2, Dead Cold (2006) was the only one available at the time in Tanglewood’s library. So, that is where I started. I was hooked. Upon finishing it, I ordered Still Life (2005), the first in the series.
Just like Dead Cold (which was also published as A Fatal Grace), Still Life takes place in Three Pines, a small town in Quebec about an hour south of Montreal. As the reader, you will learn immediately of a death.
Three Pines resident and artist, Jane Neal was found dead in the woods on Thanksgiving Sunday. It appeared to be a hunting accident. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is not so certain.
Gamache is a wonderful character. Definitely not the often time detective who comes on the scene with so much personal baggage the actual investigation of the incident gets lost in the story line. Gamache is a gentleman, perceptive, thoughtful and quite a competent individual. Yes, I do like the character Armand Gamache.
In fact, I enjoy all of Penny’s well-developed characters, even the characters one loves to hate. I feel even the village of Three Pines is rather a character in and of itself. You will also come to know the village residents, artists, Peter and Clara Morrow, outspoken Ruth Zardo, and Gabri and Olivier who own and run Olivier’s Bistro and the only B & B in Three Pines.
The Bistro is where Inspector Gamache and his team meet. Agent Yvette Nichol is new to the team and anxious to prove herself. Jean Guy Beauvoir, 35, is second in command. Agent Robert Lemieux is a young officer who happened to be on duty when the call about Jane Neal came in.
I am sure you noticed I have not given much of the plot line. The reason being it is such a well written who-done-it that I do not want to give anything away.
Clues will be dropped along the way through the tale. Just when you think you know who committed the dastardly deed, the investigation takes on a whole new line of thought. Still Life is more a classic tale of misdirection. When the murderer is finally revealed I am pretty sure you will step back in your mind to replay where you took the wrong turn to solving the case.
NB: The French language is woven into the dialogue. Do not panic! I do not know French and had no trouble. You can go to the author’s website, http://www.louisepenny.com/pronunciation_guide.htm, where she very nicely pronounces the words and gives you a little history of the terms. Recently CBS Sunday Morning had an interview with the author that you might find interesting: https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/louise-penny-on-creating-chief-inspector-armand-gamache/.
Continuing on with a completely different series, I admit I was more than a bit late meeting the character Sarah Booth Delaney. Do not make the same mistake. Booty Bones (2014) is the 14th in the series. Most of the series take place in Zinnia, Mississippi, a small town located in the delta region of the state. Booty Bones does not.
Private investigator, Sarah Booth Delaney has a romantic weekend planned for herself and her handsome fiancé Graf Milieu, plus Sweetie Pie and Pluto, Sarah’s dog and cat. She has rented a beach cottage on Dauphin Island located just off the Gulf Coast, south of Mobile, Alabama.
Sarah and her four-legged companions walk to the beach after their arrival. Then Jitty appears. Jitty is an antebellum ghost who lives in Dahlia House, Sarah’s ancestral home in Mississippi. One never knows when Jitty will appear or how she will be dressed. Jitty is offers up a message of doom that Sarah does not quite understand.
Once they have settled into the cottage, Graf and Sarah head off to take a tour of the historical Fort Gaines. The tour was led by Angela Trotter. Angela is quite knowledgeable about the fort, the island and local lore, including tales of pirates and hidden gold.
Angela ends up sharing a personal story about her father who was known as a treasure hunter. Angela feels sure her father was murdered because he had located hidden pirate treasure. She wants Sarah to investigate. Angela is convinced the wrong person was convicted of the murder.
Sarah Booth agrees to help Angela. So much for the romantic weekend. Add to the fact that Graf is dealing with own set of issues. Tinkie, Sarah’s best friend and partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, shows up to help out with the investigation after a few phone calls from Sarah.
Many twists and turns to keep the mystery moving. Booty Bones was a quick read with lots of light moments. Tanglewood’s library has several titles on the shelves to keep you busy with this series. Grab one of the books and get to know Sarah Booth Delaney and her many friends.