Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is the creation of Louise Penny. Brilliant, compassionate, and principled, Inspector Gamache marches to the beat of his own drum. Despite serious tensions with some of his superiors at the Sûreté du Québec who perceive him as disloyal to the department, he is kept on because of his ability to solve baffling cases. Nevertheless, he is stranded in homicide which suits him fine. Calm and introspective, but with a commanding presence, Gamache loves nothing more than working with his elite team of detectives and mentoring its junior members.
Still Life, the first book in the series and winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards, Chief Inspector Gamache is sent by the Sûreté to the small, primarily English-speaking village of Three Pines about three miles north of Quebec’s border with Vermont. The body of a retired schoolteacher, Jane Neal, a gentle, much-loved septuagenarian, has been found in the woods, shot through the heart with a hunting arrow. Was it a tragic hunting accident or was it murder? If it was murder, did the acceptance of the schoolteacher’s painting “Fair Lady” for exhibition in the Arts Williamsburg show the day before have anything to do with her death? Or did the schoolteacher’s cold, greedy niece hasten her aunt’s demise to get her hands on her property? Chief Inspector Gamache is determined to find out. While his team sets up an incident room in the local fire station, Gamache begins interviewing the villagers.
With an intricate plot, subtle humor, a supporting cast of quirky characters, and smart, clever dialogue, Still Life is a wonderful read.
Note: There are continually developing storylines involving Chief Inspector Gamache, the members of his team, his senior officers at the Sûreté du Québec, and the residents of the village of Three Pines throughout the series. To be fully appreciated the books should be read in order of publication.