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Still Life

(Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  175,827 ratings  ·  14,464 reviews
The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines - a place so free from crime it does ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 293 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 2005)
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Fred As a reader, I wanted to like Yvette Nichol. She put herself under a lot of stress to be seen as a success to her family, her co-workers, and — most o…moreAs a reader, I wanted to like Yvette Nichol. She put herself under a lot of stress to be seen as a success to her family, her co-workers, and — most of all — to herself. But that same drive for success limited her ability to listen, learn and reflect. She is completely self-centered. Gamache takes her under his wing, truly trying to help her find the success she strives for. When he tries to explain things to her — using whatever means he has available — she gets upset before hearing him out. I really wanted for her to see the light, but as the story progressed, she became irredeemably irritating.

Somewhere in the book a line from 'Julius Caesar' appears in conversation between Myrna and Gamache: “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.” Myrna replies to Gamache that “The vast majority of troubled people don’t get it. The fault is here [within us], but so is the solution. That’s the grace. … Who among us can admit that the problem is us?” So true in poor Yvette Nichol’s case.
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)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  175,827 ratings  ·  14,464 reviews

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Apr 14, 2012 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
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Enjoyed this more than I expected... fun cozy mystery
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-loved member of the Still Pines community (76-year-old Jane Neal) is found dead in the woods. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is brought in to investigate the case. Is Jane's death an accident, or could it be murder?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I liked the setting, the small village of Three Pines, located near Montreal. I enjoyed getting to know the cast of characters and I had fun guessing who the culprit could be. I liked Inspector Gamache and his team, except Agent Nichol who was ve
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matt by: Marty Fried
Shelves: audiobook
Easily a 4.5 star read!

A strong recommendation from a friend helped me decide to embark on a binge of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, penned by Canadian author Louise Penny. Her writing style and setting this novel in the bucolic community of Three Pines, Quebec, pulled me in early and kept me enthralled until the very end. Local artist and retired teacher, Jane Neal, was loved by many, which made the discovery of her body all the more troubling. With no known enemies, Jane’s death co
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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:)
Richard Derus
Sep 08, 2010 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
Kylie D
An intriguing and intricately woven mystery, I was sucked in by this book from the start. Chief Inspector Gamache has been sent to a small town outside Montreal to investigate the murder of an elderly lady, to find she has been shot on a hunting trail during hunting season. Accident? Probably not, as she was shot by an arrow through the heart, something only a skilled archer could do. And with a thriving archery club in the town, there is no shortage of suspects.

As we get to know the quirky folk
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cozy mystery fans
Shelves: canada-crime
4.5 stars rounded down to 4 for a very well written cozy mystery. There is only 1 murder, and little violence.
This is book 1 in the Armand Gamache mystery series. It takes place in Three Pines, Quebec, a mythical village close to the US border with Vermont. Gamache is the Chief of Homicide with the Surete du Quebec. He lives and is based in Montreal, but investigates murders province wide.
He is called to Three Pines because of the suspicious death of Jane Neal, whose body was found in the woods
"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
Nov 07, 2013 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. ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several years ago I borrowed The Cruellest Month and did not finish it ..... Now, I guess I know why. This series should be read in the order it was created ... The story of a murder in Three Pines is told at a pace which I like and it has the inspector who is so very much likeable. And the place itself ... And the smell of resin ... Louise Penny is slowly but steadily becoming the author I'm going to follow. And all thanks to several of my GR Friends whose reviews encouraged me to give Louise a ...more
Eduardo George
Oct 28, 2013 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
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
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Still Life is the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Quebec, series. It is a great murder mystery that has a depth of possible suspects and expands to encapsulate human psychology and community dynamics. The number of characters and plot twists were really well balanced so the reader isn't overwhelmed with complexity yet it's extensive enough to keep our imagination wondering who the murderer is and what the motive might be.

The opening lines of the nove
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, especially cosy
“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
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, canada
What a wonderful, beautifully written, cozy mystery set in the Canadian countryside.

“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”

Talking about choices, I am really glad I gave this series a try. I was not expecting much as I am not an avid reader of detective stories and
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

Apr 19, 2013 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 fo
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still Life by Louise Penny won the Book Bucket List contest on my blog in August 2020, which meant any friends, followers, and fans wanted me to read this one next... so I grabbed a copy from the NYPL and read it last week. At first, I had a difficult time connecting with the characters, but by the third chapter I was invested and really enjoyed the book. Let's dive a little deeper...

Armand Gamache is an inspector in a small country village set not too far from Montreal, Canada. He rarely has an
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
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, mystery, canada
It is my vacation week. I have been devouring paperbacks and enjoying this contemplative time of relaxation. One of the highlights of vacation for me is trading paperbacks with my mom. I could not fully participate this year because all the books I brought are from the library but I could take advantage of the pile that she brought. A reason that I have read as many Agatha Christie mysteries as I have over the last year is because I have been seeking a new contemporary mystery series, being caug ...more
Mary Beth
Mar 06, 2014 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
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,
Holly  B

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
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
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookriot, audiobook, 2017, mmd
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
Natasha Niezgoda
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Basically, since this shit storm doesn’t seem to want to end, I made a pivot in my reading life and picked up some cozy mysteries. I can’t deal with heavy, gory, or depressing books. And honestly, I can’t deal with fluffy love stories either. So my happy medium = Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. And I’m loving it!

It’s wholesome, smart, and has just enough trickery for my mind to keep up with. I very much recommend it if you ne
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LOUISE PENNY is the author of the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (seven times), and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture. Louise lives in a small village south of ...more

Other books in the series

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (1 - 10 of 17 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)

Articles featuring this book

With clever detectives, missing jewels, murderous women, daring spies, and more, mysteries and thrillers deliver page-turning delight with...
315 likes · 351 comments
“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” 148 likes
“There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?'
She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin.
"They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean." Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. "I don't know. I need help. I'm sorry. I was wrong'.”
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