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The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3)

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  17,379 ratings  ·  1,468 reviews
“Many mystery buffs have credited Louise Penny with the revival of the type of traditional murder mystery made famous by Agatha Christie... The book’s title is a metaphor not only for the month of April but also for Gamache’s personal and professional challenges---making this the series standout so far.”
--Sarah Weinman

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is abo
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Nov 22, 2015 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of cozys, Quebec, naps
Shelves: mystery, awards

It is Easter in Three Pines, Quebec, and the locals are discussing Easter traditions and the dangers of hiding edibles outdoors when bears are emerging from their dens. But nevermind! There's a seance to attend, but there are some abstainers--including the spirits. Jeanne says the village is too happy for them to visit. Oh, but the abandoned Hadley house is available, right? Just because Clara was trapped in the basement and the deceased owner spread malicious lies for years doesn't mean it is a
4.5 stars out of 5.

(non-spoiler alert here -- I'm including a few quotes in my review below, but I promise not to spoil any important surprises from the book!)

I am docking this book 1/2 star because Penny conflated two different species of plants which actually are not at all similar in the way Penny claimed -- which turned out to be important to the plot, since one plot twist hinged on it. I know that sounds confusing, but I don't want to give twists away here. Suffice it to say that her twist
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

Ruth Zardo comes out best in this awful, wrenching hanky-moistener of a book.

That's all I can say. Anything else is a spoiler, and if I spoil this book for anyone, that person will hunt me down and kill me.

Dead, like Madeleine Favreau! Eternal rhyming blank verse written by Odile recited in my ears by Rod McKuen. *shudder*

Secrets. Lies. Jealousies. Anguish. Loathing for the happiness of those close to us. If it lasted a few thousand more pages, I'd say it was a Ken Follett nove
The Hook - I loved the title and wondered just what month is the cruelest. You’ll have to read the book to find out> I must say I agree.

The Line” One was dead and one was left behind, one again.”

The Sinker – This passage about Armand Gamache intrigued me.
” He gathered feelings. He gathered emotions. Because murder was deeply human. It wasn’t about what people did. No, it was how they felt, because that’s where it all started. Some feeling that had once been human and natural, had twisted.
Why do I like this woman and this band of lunatics?

First there's the thing about the nice small village which just happens to have the highest known murder rate per capita in the entire world. ..I hate that. Then there's the thing about everybody in the village being slightly eccentric. ..I really hate that. Then there is the kinda obligatory creepy sceance thing in a hunted house. ..Really? do people still do that? Then she starts the book like your typical cozy and then it transforms into a po
My wife stumbled upon the first Louise Penny mystery, Still Life, in the Halifax Airport bookstore a few years ago. (A surprisingly good store, I recommend it to all on your next layover to St. John's.) We both rapidly became fascinated by Penny's writing, which is sometimes too precious, but always redeemed, because made more complex by, her turns towards hatred and anger.

These are really strange books (The Cruellest Month is the third; I expect there will ultiamtely be four; each is set during
I think this is my favorite in the series, so far.

Ruth got her duck. Mom is so happy I've made it to the duck.

To me, this story is about transformation, how it can be brought about by love, jealousy, betrayal, illness, or just being in the right place at the right time.

I enjoy watching this town and its residents, the petty little squabbles, the festering secrets, the togetherness they have. I know small town life and while it's not quite like this, typically, I can feel how this particular dyna
Lewis Weinstein
Early scenes are confusing and slow developing. Waiting for someone to be killed so Gamache can appear and the book can take off.

updated 9/16/13 ...

Gamache has arrived, and the writing style has changed. In the early chapters, there was mostly conversation among the residents of Three Pines, who spoke in the shorthand of people who know each other well. When Gamache is on the scene, clarity accompanies him. Suddenly, Penny finds the few extra words that put characters in context and make it cle
Loved it. Some of the issues brought forward from the first two books are kind of resolved in this third book in a dramatic way.

Nancy Butts
Book 3, and though I hate to leave bad reviews, this one is poor. I don't like the head hopping and her plot in this book seemed implausible. The whole thing about the Arnot case and the vendetta against Gamache didn't ring true to me; nor did the notion that every single person in the book seems to believe that the Hadley house is actually haunted. Really? And Penny's character portrayal is weak. It's not that her characters are cardboard; I think one of her themes is that all of us are a mix o ...more
Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Novel in 2008, the Cruelest Month is Louise Penny's 3rd in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. I started this series recently and have found the books to be one of the best in the murder mystery gendre. The books not only engage you in a mystery, but allow you to get an inside glimpse of the characters in a lovely, poetic way.

The Cruelest Month centers around a seance in the scary old Hadley house where no one wishes to tread. Full of fear and trepidati
You know you have a good mystery writer when the mystery isn't always the most important part of the book. Louise Penny continues to grow as a writer in her third book about the members of the village of Three Pines and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The members of the village that we have previously met; Ruth, the crabby old poet, Clara and Peter, the artist couple, Myrna, the bookstore owner, and Gabri and Oliver, the gay innkeepers, are all back. New to this story are Madeleine and Hazel, tw ...more
I just had an idea about why I both like and don't like this series. I've complained a bit in reviews for earlier books in in the series that the characters seem a bit caricatured. It occurs to me now that most of the characters have one or two dominating characteristics that are underlined frequently. This means that I have trouble "buying" them as three dimensional beings. BUT, it also occurred to me that there is a long tradition of fiction in which characteristics such as Hope or Greed are p ...more
Toni Osborne
3rd novel featuring Chief Inspector Gamache

It is spring time in Three Pines; some of the villagers have decided to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, hoping to rid the town of its evil spirits that have plagued it for decades ---- suddenly one of the attendees collapses apparently scared to death.... Or was it murder? Due to mysterious circumstances, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team from the Sureté du Québec are dispatched to this picturesque village. Once there,
Moira Fogarty
Not the juicy murder mystery in a cozy setting I was looking for - haunted houses, jealousy, gossip and evil conspiracies don't really do it for me. Of the 3 Gamache novels I've read in quick sequence, Still Life and A Fatal Grace were much more engaging. This just felt a bit... forced?

I'm glad Penny decided to wrap up the Arnot subplot, as it was getting tired, and I hope this will be the final chapter on the oh-so-spooky Hadley house. I like anthropomorphizing inanimate objects as much as the
4.5 stars
The third of the Inspector Gamache series and my favorite so far. They just keep getting better and better. As the characters become more complex, and more of their lives revealed I become more and more invested. I am not a "series" reader but this is one that I will follow to the end. The "mystery" is almost secondary to me....though they are a challenge in themselves.
THE CRUELLEST MONTH (Traditional Mystery- C.I. Armand Gamache-Canada-Cont) - Ex
Penny, Louise – 3rd in series
Headline, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780755328949
First Sentence: Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper.
*** It is Easter and Inspector Armand Gamache has been called back to the small town of Three Pines where a woman has been literally frightened to
The third and most serious Three Pines adventure thus far. Same great writing but in my opinion this addition was missing some of the humorous appeal the first two held, nevertheless, still a wonderful listen.

Inspector Gamache and his team are trying to solve a murder that is being clouded by the fascination and mania that surround bewitchery and superstitions. Chief Inspectors suspicions are brought forward from book two of who may be responsible for the attempt to disgrace and discredit him.
Each time I visit Three Pines, I enjoy it more.

The theme woven throughout this book is the destructive property of competitiveness in relationships. Some characters handle it better than others. While Gamache goes through some heartbreaking difficulties during this mystery, he handles it as nobly and honestly as one can be expected to.

I can't think of any specific reason why, but Three Pines' quirky characters and cozy setting bring to my mind Northern Exposure's Cicely, Alaska.
The Canadian village of Three Pines may be idyllic, but it's not immune from murder. As T.S. Elliott so famously wrote, "April is the cruelest month," and as Easter approaches, the residents decide to hold a seance to rid their vacant, creepy manor house of the malevolent spirits that have wreaked such havoc among them. It's a daunting prospect, but something that must be done. One of their number dies of fright, and early the next morning, Inspector Armande Gamache arrives on what has now becom ...more
This was an overall improvement from #2 in that it was less repellent in the crimes committed, however, the entire "house as a malevolent entity" became tedious rather quickly. Ignoring that annoyance, and being told by someone who just finished #7 that things start looking up after this one, gave me heart to look past the house and focus on the rest of the story and the characters.

The mystery that brings the Inspector back to Three Pines is less compelling than the back story about the Arnot c
I love Inspector Armand Gamache, he's intelligent, kind and thoughtful. He's called again to Three Pines to solve an apparent murder. A group decides to hold a seance in a haunted house and to be expected, the outcome is murder. Inspector Gamache is called in discover the evil resident in the house and the town of seemingly charming and ordinary people. While doing this, he is also reeling from a smear campaign targetting his family. Excellent turns and twists and a thoroughly satisfying read. 3 ...more
Penny has the ability to take us to Three Pines and walk us around the village.

This author has won many prizes for her books in this series, deservedly so based on what I have read so far. The main factor that makes her stand out from most mystery writers out there is that she does not base the success on her book mainly on the mystery plot. Instead, she fascinates us with describing the town and its inhabitants, developing the characters, and showing us what are the reasons behind their actions
Louise Penny has become one of my favorite authors. Her first and second books were selected by my book club. Her third, The Cruelest Month, will be reviewed by us next week at our monthly meeting.

It had been a while since I had read her second book and I had to read slowly and try to remember the characters. I love Inspector Gamache and found myself worrying about him all through this book, as if he were a real person. Since I usually cast actors in my books to play the parts of the characters
Three Pines gets creepy. Gamache’s challenges are double, figuring out the murder that happened in Three Pines under spooky circumstances and addressing the maliciousness of co-workers holding loyalties to a former leader whom Gamache arrested. That leader, Arnot, had done some pretty heinous things, and Gamache’s convictions compelled him to bring Arnot down and into custody knowing that those actions would turn Arnot’s cronies against him. He was correct about that, and in this, the third book ...more
Good mystery continuing the series with a return to Three Pines after someone dies at a seance. All the foreshadowing from the previous book culminated near the end of this one, but felt a bit too pat.
Mary Ronan Drew
The plots in Louise Penny's books are a delight. The characters are interesting and are developing over the course of the books. Armand Gamache is as likeable a detective as you will find. And there is a plot thread that runs through all the books with the author holding back the answers to a great many larger questions that the reader finds herself asking as the team from Montreal pursues the perpetrator of the most recent crime. . . .

You can read the rest of my review on my blog at:

Once again, Inspector Gamache is called to the tiny village of Three Pines when a murder occurs in the old Hadley house. He is also fighting his own battles within the Surete because of the Arnot case.

The primary mystery and plot line focused on friendship, jealousy, small town living, etc. Penny did a great job of providing plenty of suspects while keeping it believable.

But, honestly, this became a 5-star read for two of the sub-plots.

A very, very minor portion of the story revolves around R
This book is initially set at Easter time and is describing the customs that the village of Three Pines do for the holiday. This book contains two mysteries. Who killed Madeleine at the seance? (which was held at the Old Hadley House--a sinister and unhappy place of bad happenings that stands in sharp contrast to the sweet and happy Three Pines)The other mystery is who is trying to bring Inspector Gamache down and is this as a result of his unearthing of bad practices/crimes within the police of ...more
Kathy Davie
Third in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series revolving around the inspector and a small village outside Montreal during Easter.

My Take
The village of Three Pines is as much a character in this series as the people. Whenever Penny describes this forgotten village in her opening paragraphs, I always think Brigadoon with the swirling years of time and the protection of the Canadian mountains as they conceal this tiny place. There's the old Hadley place, too. Another character abandoned
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Inspecter Gamache 4 138 Nov 04, 2013 12:28AM  
  • Dreaming of the Bones (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #5)
  • I Shall Not Want (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #6)
  • An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs, #5)
  • Blue Lightning (Shetland Island, #4)
  • Legacy of the Dead (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #4)
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)
  • Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)
  • A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2)
  • 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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“Gamache knew people were like homes. Some were cheerful and bright, some gloomy. Some could look good on the outside but feel wretched on the interior. And some of the least attractive homes, from the outside, were kindly and warm inside.

He also knew the first few rooms were for public consumption. It was only in going deeper that he'd find the reality. And finally, inevitably, there was the last room, the one we keep locked, and bolted and barred, even from ourselves. Especially from ourselves.”
“Houses are like people, Agent Lemieux. They have secrets. I'll tell you something I've learned.'

Armand Gamache dropped his voice so that Agent Lemieux had to strain to hear.

'Do you know what makes us sick, Agent Lemieux?'

Lemieux shook his head. Then out of the darkness and stillness he heard the answer.

'It's our secrets that make us sick.”
More quotes…