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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)
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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  49,338 Ratings  ·  5,262 Reviews
Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certai
Mass Market Paperback, 293 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2005)
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Scott Brazil I just read it, after having met the author on her recent book tour. Very well written, wonderful characters and setting. Highly recommended by me. I…moreI just read it, after having met the author on her recent book tour. Very well written, wonderful characters and setting. Highly recommended by me. I have been told that it is important to read this series in order, which I intend to do.(less)
Carol Byron You can order the ebook at Amazon. I did. I have both a hard copy and one in my Kindle.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Richard Derus
Sep 04, 2014 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Film Review

Book Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells
Nov 06, 2015 Carol. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of pastoral mysteries
Recommended to Carol. by: Richard Derus

Middling books are the hardest to review, dontchathink?

Maybe it's the recent time change (is there any point to Daylight Savings Time anymore?), maybe it's the fact that I feel like I'm swimming uphill in my nursing clinical trying to get hours in, but Still Life kept putting me to sleep. A blurb (or a review, I forget which) compares her to Agatha Christie, which I suppose could be true, only it's a version of Christie that was being paid by the word and operates only inside people's heads, whi
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Dec 04, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detective mystery & Canadian Lit fans
NO SPOILERS. Her debut, entertaining, well written and deserving of its literary awards. A traditional detective novel, the murder unraveled by careful observation - felt like a breath of fresh air after my normal diet of forensics mysteries. A murder disrupts the peace in Quebec’s heartland where "The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time". A rural setting, quiet pace and lack of gore has some pegging this as a cozy mystery, ...more
May 14, 2010 Tatiana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Harper Bell
I am a little sad that I can't give Still Life more than 2 stars. It was recommended to me and it's not a pleasant task to trash someone's suggestion, but what can I do, this book was just a barely OK read for me.

Still Life is a traditional ("cozy") mystery set in a Canadian village Three Pines. One Sunday morning a body of 76-year old Jane Neal - a long-time resident of the village - is found. At first, it appears that Jane was killed in a hunting accident, but later we find out that quite a fe
In all the years Jean Guy Beauvior had worked with Gamache, through all the murders and mayhem, it never ceased to thrill him, hearing that simple sentence. "Tell me what you know." It signaled the beginning of the hunt. He was the alpha dog. And Chief Inspector Gamache was Master of the Hunt.

October -Canadian Thanksgiving weekend- Three Pines, Quebec

Victim : Jane Neal, 76 years old, retired school teacher, never married- found dead in the woods not far from her home- cause of death -shot with a
Apr 19, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
This is a murder mystery in the category of police procedural. I like to throw in a few of these every once in a while for variety. After all, one does not wish to consider oneself effete for having dined on too rich a diet of purely literary fare, does one?

Now that we're in the star bestowal business I thought for a minute about what makes for a good book of this sort. Here’s the list I came up with along with how Still Life did with respect to it.

Interesting characters
Plausible forensic
Sign me up.....I'm in, and it looks like the ratings only get better for this popular series going forward!

Jane Neal is found dead in the woods, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache leads his troops to the picturesque village of Three Pines to uncover secrets and find a killer. This fun to read crime-mystery has many great characters that I can't wait to get to know better.....Oliver and his partner Gabri are a hoot and newbie smart-mouth Agent Nichol, well, she is something else, and then there's

Eduardo George
Nov 01, 2013 Eduardo George rated it did not like it

Martha Stewart meets Agatha Christie on a very bad hair day.

I was recommended this author by a friend who is a great admirer of Ian Rankin and Stieg Larsson, so I was quite excited as I set out. Excitement soon turned to disappointment, followed by a sense of disbelief that writing so bad could be so well received by the reading public. And indeed win a prize, albeit one for novice crime writers.

The setting is an idyllic village near Montreal, populated with a cast of caricatures - aging bohemi
Aug 28, 2011 Leonie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading A Fatal Grace and soon realised that I would be better to go back to the beginning with Louise Penny's first book set in the magical Quebecois village of Three Pines. I'm loving it so far and I'm only up to page 12. A sample:

"In the twenty-five years she'd lived in Three Pines she'd never, ever heard of a crime. The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbours from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time."

I love the characters so much I want to go to Three
May 16, 2016 Desislava rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
“‘I think many people love their problems. Gives them all sorts of excuses for not growing up and getting on with life.’ Myrna leaned back again in her chair and took a long breath. ‘Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead. Most of these people are very immature. They lead “still” lives, waiting.”

Still Life is the first book in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache Novels, maybe she came on strong in later books but
Lewis Weinstein
Aug 29, 2012 Lewis Weinstein rated it really liked it
Still Life is an absolutely delightful read.

Louise Penny weaves a complex plot with sure hands, repeatedly provides an interesting sense of place, and develops her characters deftly, patiently, one ingredient at a time. There is a very satisfying blend of action and reflection, and mostly intelligent detective work, set against a beautifully presented background of life in a small artists village in modern Quebec where everyone knows everyone else and one of them is a murderer.

One of the inter
Mar 04, 2015 Chrissie rated it did not like it
I don't want to annoy others who think Louise Penny writes great stuff. OK, she does - for the simple reason she has achieved a high star rating, but she is NOT for me. The ending is SO incredible - (view spoiler) I like credible, realistic stories. This is not. The ending was simply the last straw for me.

I tried this book in an attempt
Mary Beth
Aug 04, 2014 Mary Beth rated it it was amazing
I finally get the chance to read this series, I've heard nothing but good things about this series. I should have read this a lot sooner than I did. This 1St book in the series was just fabulous. This mystery takes place in Quebec, Canada in a small village called Three Pines. The author describes this place so well that I actually felt that I was there visiting with these odd characters. Three Pines is the place to be! This book is very well written and has won many awards.
The mystery starts
Jane Neal was an eccentric artist. Her mudroom was a museum, her kitchen a shrine. That was as far as anybody was allowed into her home. Even her most dearest friends never made it beyond the kitchen.

The status quo would have lingered on forever, if it wasn't for Jane submitting, for the first time in her life, one of her paintings, ' Fair Day', to the Annual Williamsburg Arts Exhibition. It was the only piece of herself that she finally wanted to share with the world.

Some judges were horrifie
Jul 14, 2015 Alex rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015
Clara "laughed until she thought she would piddle," and I want to piddle on this book. No to the word "piddle"; no to twee gay couples who sing along to "It's Raining Men"; no to "violent death demanded Earl Grey"; no to murderers who are both telegraphed and chosen out of a hat; no to this smug, precious, suffocatingly cozy mystery.
Apr 28, 2015 poingu rated it it was amazing
I never read mysteries, but a friend suggested Louise Penny's "Beautiful Mystery," and after reading it I wanted to read "Still Life," the book that began Armand Gamache's story.

I can't say with authority that Penny's mysteries are different from other mysteries, but I can say that these books are very different from the way I thought mysteries were. The characters are complicated and human. They think deeply about their lives and they try to do the right thing. Even minor characters in this bo
Doug Bradshaw
Oct 26, 2015 Doug Bradshaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of good writing is the author's clever and fun understanding of the human condition. Louise Penny is a master at at this, revealing touching qualities of love and sacrifice of some and the negative traits of the greedy, the liars, the selfish and then the underlying traits causing one person to murder another.

Armand Gamache is a methodical, experienced, brilliant detective who comes to town to solve the latest death, perhaps a hunting accident, but maybe a murder. Along with his team, he s
Jenny (Reading Envy)
One of my co-workers listens to a lot of audio, so when I asked her for some favorites, she exclusively spoke on the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. She said she only goes to another author if there isn't a new title to listen to, and sometimes even goes back to relisten. I don't read a lot of mystery novels so I decided to have a brief diversion and give it a try.

It is a typical cozy mystery with a cast of quirky characters but I enjoyed it. After all, I usually find I read mysteries not
Dec 15, 2014 Nikki rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, crime
I have quite mixed feelings about this one. It was enthusiastically recommended on Twitter by a couple of authors I do like, but from the very first page it felt clumsily written to me. A little overwritten — “Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec knelt down; his knees cracking like the report of a hunter’s rifle, his large, expressive hands hovering over the tiny circle of blood marring her fluffy cardigan, as though like a magician he could remove the wound and restore the wom ...more
Cozy mysteries typically aren't my thing but I have nothing against them, either. My mom loves this series and wanted me to read it so we can discuss it, thus, I am and we will.

This is the first book in the series and this tiny, charming Quebecois town (I kept thinking it was British even though Montreal is mentioned ten-million times and most everyone has a French name) has great potential. It's full of quirky characters (Mom's favorite is crabby, old Ruth. Apparently, she gets a duck later on)
May 17, 2012 Contrarius rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I don't normally read "cozy" mysteries -- although I do love most of Alexander McCall Smith's books, and I suppose they might be classified as "cozy" with a little stretching. But in any case, I had no intention of reading this series until I was coerced into it by an evil Goodreads member who shall remain forever nameless. As I told him, ya gotta watch out for those "gateway" books -- they can get you into all sorts of trouble if you're not careful.

Now that I've taken that first "hit", I can ho
Jan 05, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Thoroughly enjoyable mystery set in a village near Quebec. My friend JK has been after me forever to read this series and I am so glad I finally started it! This is a cozy read and I loved being immersed in the lives of the characters- it reminded me much of the BBC series Doc Martin: village life, quirky character's with complicated and enmeshed histories, a beautiful setting, and good storytelling. I look forward to reading more about this village and getting to know more about the charcters. ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Mona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Canadian writers are just "killing it" lately..pun intended.

This is a lovely, gentle murder mystery set in an artsy, rural, picturesque Canadian town called Three Pines. I did guess who the killer was, although there were many possible suspects. The cast of characters in the town is richly depicted. There are wonderful artist couple Clara and Peter; former Montreal psychologist turned used book store owner Myrna, a huge black woman given to dramatic entrances in purple caftans, bringing unus
Heather Fineisen
Sep 12, 2013 Heather Fineisen rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
Mother knows best. This includes my own, who has been recommending this series to me for quite some time. We went to the library after a doctor's appointment and she pulled this off the shelf. Thanks, mom. Louise Penny creates a community of eccentric and witty characters in Three Pines where murder is not the norm. Although I did guess the killer (toot toot goes my own horn) this was a suspenseful and insightful look at the strangers who live beside us. This experience tells me mom knows best, ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in cozies and/or Canadian authors.
Shelves: 2008
Still Life is a mystery cozy featuring a small Canadian village in Southern Quebec called Three Pines, eccentric characters, and, of course, a murder.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called upon to solve the death of Jane Neal, a beloved and elderly member of Three Pines. It is inconceivable to the residents that anyone would murder Jane, though, curiously, it appears that one of them is the murderer. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team must invade the privacy of these villagers in order to fi
STILL LIFE (Police Proced-Canada-Cont) – Ex
Penny, Louise – 1st book
Headline, 2005- Hardcover
*** Death brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his officers of the Sûreté du Quebec to the small village of Three Pines, Canada. Much-loved Jane Neal has been found dead in the woods. Gamache must determine whether her death was the result of a hunting accident, or deliberate murder.
*** Penny’s debut book is a true, classic traditional mystery. Penny has a wonderful writing voice full of introspecti
I am thrilled with this book. I love The 3 Pines characters. The audiobook was terrific. I am so glad that the same narrator was used thru all the series. I started out with a more recent book, and enjoyed hearing his younger voice.

A must read.
5 out of 5 stars.
Jacob Proffitt
Nov 06, 2014 Jacob Proffitt marked it as unfinished
Shelves: mystery
I'm afraid I didn't get very far with this book. The head-hopping was really jarring (a kind of limited omniscience that made little sense in a mystery novel, frankly). This is exacerbated by a kind of pastoral laze the book starts with that jumps around temporally as well as spatially around a bucolic township and the (lovable?) peasants inhabiting it. But I broke on Penny's treatment of a junior investigator that I suspect was being played for laughs but done in a way that seemed both mean and ...more
Shell The Belle
Mar 06, 2013 Shell The Belle rated it did not like it
No stars at all for this one. One of the most boring authors it has been my displeasure to waste time on. I persevered with this one to the end in the hope that it would be worthwhile. Sadly not. The promise of this big mystery and twist in the tale being revealed were a bit like a bad dream when you cant quite see what you are looking at. The novel was flat, with no real essence.

I bought this book in a set with two others; bury your dead and one I cant think of. I tried reading bury your dead,
Jun 14, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent mystery series that takes place in the small village of Three Pines in Quebec. The characters are well developed and enjoyable. Plenty of suspense and twists and turns. I read this book, but have listened to another in the series on audiobook. The narrator for those is also very good. I would recommend this detective series to anyone that enjoys an atmospheric read with heart and mystery, but light on procedurals and gore.
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  • Out of the Deep I Cry (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #3)
  • And Justice There Is None (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #8)
  • Search the Dark (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #3)
  • The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs, #7)
  • A Question of Belief (Commissario Brunetti, #19)
  • Forty Words for Sorrow (John Cardinal and Lise Delorme Mystery, #1)
  • A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway, #5)
Many of Louise Penny's books are published under different titles by UK/Canada and US publishers.
She lives with her husband, Michael, and a golden retriever named Trudy, in a small village south of Montreal.

Her first Armand Gamache novel, "Still Life" won the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony and Dilys Awards.

* Agatha Award: Best Novel
o 2007 – A Fatal Grace – Winner
o 2008 –
More about Louise Penny...

Other Books in the Series

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2)
  • The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #3)
  • A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #4)
  • The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #5)
  • Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #6)
  • A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #7)
  • The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #8)
  • How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #9)
  • The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #10)
  • The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #11)

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“Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It's as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. so when I'm observing that's what I'm watching for. The choices people make” 62 likes
“Myrna could spend happy hours browsing bookcases. She felt if she could just get a good look at a person’s bookcase and their grocery cart, she’d pretty much know who they were.” 46 likes
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