Betty-Anne's Reviews > The Brutal Telling

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
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Jul 26, 11

Louise Penny’s fifth book to be set in the beautiful Quebec village of Three Pines, The Brutal Telling, begins with a body found in the local bistro belonging to two gay partners, Olivier and Gabi.

In a tiny village where everyone knows everyone else, the fact that no one claims knowledge of the victim is as much a mystery as the murder itself. This gives celebrated Chief Inspector Armande Gamache and his team two mysteries to solve in order to solve the murder.

From the start, there is confusion about who is actually telling the truth, who really saw what they thought they did and whose motivations are really what they claimed. The mystery of the dead man is revealed in layers, each new level of clues leading first to and then away from a different suspect, in a tantalizing dance with the reader, until at the end the solution ties several threads together.

I was very impressed with Louise Penny’s ability to build this story layer by layer, which made for a focused and absorbing read. The descriptions of setting, characters and especially food made me want to alternately visit the bistro or someone’s kitchen!

The story is well told, in the author’s captivating writing style, and as the plot developed I looked forward to each new revelation and the twists it brought. Even though I figured out who the murderer was about two thirds of the way into the book (it just seemed the most likely possibility), there was still one excellent twist at the end which caught me completely off guard, and made me rethink the perspective I had been reading with from the very first sentence. I loved that.

I had one or two minor problems with the book, mainly the treatment of the priceless artworks found which seemed to me somewhat unrealistic, both in the manner of recognition and the way it was dealt with. It may have been too heavy a topic to truly fit into the tone of the novel. Also difficult was the behavior of some of the characters which simply did not ring true in some areas of the novel.

In spite of these small things, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any reader who enjoys light mysteries. Of particular enjoyment was the fact that this book worked well as a stand-alone novel. I didn’t feel that I was missing anything from the previous books.

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