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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  94,369 Ratings  ·  8,871 Reviews
As the early morning mist clears on Thanksgiving Sunday, the homes of Three Pines come to life - all except one…

To locals, the village is a safe haven. So they are bewildered when a well-loved member of the community is found lying dead in the maple woods. Surely it was an accident - a hunter's arrow gone astray. Who could want Jane Neal dead?

In a long and distinguished ca
...more
Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 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)
MJ Gamache reads people very well and he could tell through her behavior that she was not a team player. He only wants team players working with him and…moreGamache reads people very well and he could tell through her behavior that she was not a team player. He only wants team players working with him and people willing to admit they are wrong. Based on her not being able to see that SHE may be the problem (when looking at her reflection in the mirror and then the window), it was obvious that she is self-centered and not willing to she herself as ever being wrong.(less)

Community Reviews

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Carol.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Christine
4.5 stars

With the encouragement of several of my Goodreads friends, I finally decided to pick up Still Life, a novel I bought 3 years ago. I don’t know why I waited so long to dust it off, especially since it has won multiple awards, but I can tell you it won’t take 3 years for me to read book 2 of what I believe will be a highly enjoyable series.

Some readers called this a cozy. I respectfully disagree; I think this story is more in the category of literary mystery. There is so much depth. The s
...more
Richard Derus
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Candi
"Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back."

I’ve seen this book and others in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series pop up so many times in my friends’ reviews and lists. And yet, I hesitated to read it for some time sinc
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Tatiana
Apr 30, 2010 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
...more
Phrynne
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4000-books
This was a pleasure to read. Imagine a detective who is happily married and is not an alcoholic! Discovering Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a pleasure in itself!

I really enjoyed the setting, a small town in Quebec, and I became quite attached to several of the characters. They were quirky and a couple verged on going over the top but overall the author held it together.

An easy, comfortable read with just a bit of bite to it to keep it interesting. Consider me hooked on the series:)
Linda
Sometimes a memorable read needs to be revisited for a multitude of reasons.

Louise Penny lost her husband Michael this year. Her loss was so apparent in her latest offering, The Great Reckoning. As I turned the initial pages of this first book in the series, Still Life, I came upon the Acknowledgements that almost made me weep:

"This is for my husband Michael, who has created a life for us full of love and kindness. He allowed me to quit my job, pretend to write, then gave me unstinting praise ev
...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jan 04, 2013 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
PattyMacDotComma
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, especially cosy
4+★
“He always felt a pang when looking at the hands of the newly dead, imagining all the objects and people those hands had held. The food, the faces, the doorknobs. All the gestures they’d made to signal delight or sorrow. And the final gesture, surely, to ward off the blow that would kill. The most poignant were the hands of young people who would never absently brush a lock of gray hair from their own eyes.”

Chief Inspector Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec has been called to the woods near the
...more
Delee
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
...more
Steve
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fo
...more
Alex
Nov 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carol
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

...more
Eduardo George
Oct 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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
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Iris P

Still Life

My discovery of the charming, picturesque Canadian fictional village of Three Pines comes a few years too late, but I am glad I finally decided to pay a visit.

Before reading Still Life I only had a casual idea of what a "cozy murder mystery" was. Once you read this novel however, you can see how that moniker perfectly describes this novel and Mrs. Penny's writing style.

The title, Still Life, also describes the idyllic, low-key lifestyle the residents of Three Pines have been accustome
...more
Holly  B
3.5

The first book of 13 in the Armand Gamache series. This book was published in 2005 and there are many things I enjoyed about this character driven novel.

Each story in the series takes place in Three Pines, a small Canadian village (which is fictional). There is quite a cast of characters in this one and Inspector Gamache is quite humorous, compassionate, and wise! I look forward to getting to know him better.

If you enjoy detective/police procedural series that have a "cozy" feel and are wel
...more
Jean
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quaint, picturesque, charming – that’s Louise Penny’s village of Three Pines in rural Quebec.
Still Life, first Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, which was published in 2005, refers not just to a painting, but to the way some people live their lives. Rather than actively pursuing their hopes and dreams, they wait for good things to come to them.

Miss Jane Neal was possibly one of those people for much of her life. She fancied herself an artist, although none had ever seen her work. In fact,
...more
Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
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
...more
Britany
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookriot, mmd, 2017, audiobook
What a great book! Perfect for curling up with a cup of tea on a cold day. I would consider this a cozy mystery series and I don't know what took me so long to finally get to this series, as I continue to hear such wonderful things about Louise Penny. (Ok, I avoid series because then I feel obligated to read them all and especially avoid them if the author is still writing them)-- (both are true in this case!)

Inspector Armand Gamache is called to quaint little Three Pines outside Montreal-- so t
...more
Tooter
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars - Quite a few reviewers have described this book (and other books by Louise Penny) as a "cozy" mystery. I've always tried to steer clear of any book with that description for fear it would be too "cutesy" and predictable. After this book was recommended to me by a friend I decided to try it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I have 12 of her books and I plan to continue the series until it gets stale...which happens more than not :(
Maxwell
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2018
Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the small village of Three Pines outside Montréal to investigate the murder of an elderly woman much beloved by the community. Upon his arrival he discovers that nearly everyone he meets could be a suspect, and the investigation is immediately underway. But this isn’t your traditional hard-and-fast crime novel. It’s much cozier and focuses on the lives of the many—and I mean many—villagers that we meet throughout the novel.

I enjoyed that the novel broke from
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Brenda
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache received the call as he and his wife were to leave for a christening – he was soon on his way to Three Pines from his home in Quebec to investigate a murder. Jane Neal was in her seventies, loved by all in the small village – but she was dead in the woods near her home. Was it an accident; or was it murder?

As Gamache and his team began their investigation, and came to know the residents of Three Pines, he knew this little village would have an impact on him. But he
...more
Chrissie
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
...more
Mandy
3.5 stars.
This is the first book in the Inspector Gamache series, and I'd heard that the books get better as they go on.
That being said, I did quite enjoy this, I just found it to be a little patchy at times. By that I mean some parts were better than others and the whole book felt a bit like a bumpy ride.
Jane Neal has been killed. She lived in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Canada. So Inspector Gamache is sent from Quebec with his team to solve the murder.
I really enjoyed Louise Penny's
...more
Jim
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is Louise Penny's debut novel and the first in the Inspector Armand Gamache series. This was a terrific read and in some ways reminds me of Agatha Christie. The characters are well developed and likable ... well not the murderer. The locale is Three Pines, a small rural village south of Montreal and the author description makes it a come alive and a place you would like to live in or at least visit.

Jane Neal, 76 years old and a retired school teacher, is found dead in the woods over the Can
...more
Leonie
Aug 22, 2011 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
...more
Lewis Weinstein
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
...more
Margitte
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
...more
Icewineanne
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
This was an enjoyable start to a mystery series. I don't know of any other writers who set their stories in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, this area of the province is so just beautiful.
Inspector Gamache leads the investigation into an artist's death (Jane Neal was found dead in the forest, killed by an old fashioned bow & arrow). Gamache is a no-nonsense kind of man, taking his job seriously (no tormented soul here), but with a keen insight into humanity and a wonderful sense of humour.
...more
Janelle
First off, this is a very beloved author and beloved series and I can see why. I was reminded of when I was a kid enjoying the world of Nancy Drew, and as an adult, enjoying Agatha Christie. Although not as dark as Christie, I had this same nostalgic feeling reading this book. This is a traditional mystery detective story and the best part about it is the characters: their personalities, quirks, and small town vibes. I felt like I was a part of their everyday lives. Louise Penny does a fantastic ...more
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7,763 followers
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 14 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” 105 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.” 72 likes
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