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The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  31,216 Ratings  ·  2,606 Reviews

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.
     It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth.  But not everything is meant to return to life. . .
     When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Sameera77 Ruth Zardo's poetry in Louise Penny's books comes mostly from Margaret Atwood's Morning in the Burned House and Marylyn Plessner's self-published…moreRuth Zardo's poetry in Louise Penny's books comes mostly from Margaret Atwood's Morning in the Burned House and Marylyn Plessner's self-published book.
Piepie Yes, they made a movie based on Still Life. Done by Acorn, it starred Nathaniel Parker as Gamache. Amazon says the DVD came out in 2014. It's very…moreYes, they made a movie based on Still Life. Done by Acorn, it starred Nathaniel Parker as Gamache. Amazon says the DVD came out in 2014. It's very good-- I really enjoyed it! It'd be great if they made more!(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of cozys, Quebec, naps
Recommended to Carol. by: Richard Derus
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
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Richard Derus
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Absolutely LOVED this book. The stakes are continuing to rise. I continue to fall in love with the good, decent, wonderful Inspector Gamache. This book felt a little twistier than the first two. I liked that. Can't wait to keep going in the series!
Reading a Chief Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny is a terrific reading experience. This is the 3rd novel in the series and the fourth which I have read. As I was reading this book I was reminded of when I first discovered Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot. A small village, a murder, a small group of suspects, and a detective who will discover the truth by reasoning and deduction.

Is it possible to be scared to death? Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team return to Three Pines, a sma
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy Butts
May 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Previously on Goodreads, my review for book 2

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, t
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.

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
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3/5; B

This was my first Inspector Gamache story which I read after having no less than three people in one week recommend I read this series. I really enjoyed the portrayal of the Inspector as well as many of the characters in the town of Three Pines. There might have been an element of too much perfection in the town but that's ok. It was a good story.
I love Gamache. He is an ethical, caring human being. An illustration of this is the incident in the book when Gamache notices a native woman, a Cree, standing in front of the Le Chateau Frontanac Hotel protesting. The woman thinks it is the Quebec seat of government, as it is a very impressive building. She has raised money to seek help in investigating the disappearances and deaths of Cree youth, including her son. She doesn't speak French or English. After days there, Gamache sees her and loc ...more
I really need to get a timeline down on the events that have happened to our main character and the villagers of Three Pines. Both seem tied together in my head, but you realize that things have occurred to Chief Inspector Armand that colors how he investigates now. I really wish we had gotten more detail about that. It sounds like a terrible case he was involved with that is now causing repercussions to his family. Three Pines is still the picturesque village that has a darkness on the fringes ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 think that I may have enjoyed this Louise Penny novel the most of the three I've read in this series. It almost felt like this one went a little deeper than the two previous novels. I also found the actual murder mystery to be a bit more compelling with this one. I still didn't find this one to knock it out of the park BUT I do think it was very readable and makes me want to continue with the series. I keep hearing that it starts to pick up at book 4 so I'm eager to see if that's the case. I d ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, softpress
Пени става все по-добра с всяка книга - чисто писателски стилът ѝ е по-ошлайфан, по-изчистен. Но и атмосферата, героите... вместо да ти доскучее (колко пък необичайни убийства могат да се случат в едно уж забравено от бога село?!) ти става все по-хубаво, все по-мило и важно да се връщаш към героите, да откирваш нови и нови дълбочини в характера им. О, чудесна е. Нямам търпение да излезе през януари, за да я прочетат и другите.
April was commemorated in Three Pines with a murder, secrets, and low-levels of cruelty. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his motley team returned to the small village.

Something old and rotted and twisted by time and necessity was in the abandoned Hadley house with its undulating noises, waves of cold air and dread. How much that was felt in each person’s imagination was artificial and what was real?

I am trying to figure out why I enjoyed this murder-mystery so much. At times, the r
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
The Cruellest Month (or Cruelest, for you 'mericans) is the third entry in Louise Penny's Gamache series. Of the three I've read, this one had the most trouble keeping my attention. I lay blame at the feet of Blake Crouch, whose Dark Matter stayed in my head days after finishing it. Damn you, Crouch.

However, it was still nice to return to the village of Three Pines and gain about 50 pounds vicariously through the characters' belt busting meals. Besides this, you can smell the pines, the spring b
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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-cd, 2014
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.
Jennifer Vining
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By now I think if you follow my reviews you know that I have a deep love for Three Pines and all three of these books I have read so far by Louise Penny. I have said it before but it applies again - starting one of these books is like wrapping up in your favorite comfy blanket. While being a thrilling mystery series it is also a cozy read. Ok on to The Cruelest Month… this has been my favorite book so far in the series! By now we are very familiar with all the crazy characters who reside in Thre ...more
Who would have guessed that a book series about murders would bring me so much reader-ish (yes, I made up that word) joy? I have never wanted so much to live in a small town in Canada full of murderers LOL! Ok, so only three murderers so far, but this series has 13 books total so far and counting, so that number is destined to keep going up. I'm officially putting the first book of this series on my favorite series shelf! I can pretty confidently say I will eventually read all of them.
Nov 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know there's a lot of people who love Louise Penny books, but I am steadily, with each of her books, losing my esteem for her as a writer. This one was particularly unbelievable, especially the subplot of the Surete trying to destroy Gamache and his family. Without spoiling any of the specifics, the mole and their superior exposed their intentions - for what possible reason or gain? - with a dozen or so potential witnesses in earshot in the next room. Also I had a really tough time believing t ...more
Toni Osborne
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 - rounded up to 5.

Again - Louise Penny's character development is phenomenal. The emotional elements to each person are so deep. And her descriptions of Clara's and Peter's art make we wish there was a gallery here.

The murder to be solved here probably wasn't my favorite plot line, but with this one, the conclusion of the Arnot case which has been underlying the first 3 books comes to a close (I think??)

I can't wait to pick up the next one, and I sure wish I could visit Three Pines!
Kathy Davie
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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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LOUISE PENNY, a former CBC radio journalist, is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of thirteen Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has been awarded the John Creasey Dagger, Nero, Macavity and Barry Awards, as well as two each of the Arthur Ellis and Dilys Awards. Additionally, Penny has won six Agatha Awards and five Anthony Awards, and has been a finalist for an Ed ...more
More about Louise Penny...

Other Books in the Series

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (1 - 10 of 13 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)
“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.”
“Love wants the best for others. Attachment takes hostages.” 10 likes
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