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The Cruelest Month

(Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  67,017 ratings  ·  5,138 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 hoping to r
Kindle Edition, 311 pages
Published March 4th 2008 (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 book…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.
Violetteanne I didn't care for the Acorn version. It was too rushed. The casting was pretty good with everyone looking pretty much how I envisioned them even Agent…moreI didn't care for the Acorn version. It was too rushed. The casting was pretty good with everyone looking pretty much how I envisioned them even Agent Nichol.

I love Nathaniel Parker as Gamache. I liked him as Inspector Lynley. That was perfect casting.

I didn't like how Myrna was treated as an after thought. Her conversation with Gamache was crucial to the story but in this TV version she didn't say a word. We see her bringing in one of her centerpieces once and it was so brief if you haven't read the book it makes her come off as a maid helping set the table. The actress looked nothing like Myrna is described in the book but I could've let that slide if they'd given the character her due and let her talk. They didn't even show her book store. Garbi, the other large person in the series was merely chubby here but at least he got to talk.

If they are making another TV adaptation I hope they correct what to me was a glaring omission.


Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  67,017 ratings  ·  5,138 reviews

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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
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada-crime
4 stars for another entertaining mystery in the Armand Gamache series. This is book 3 in the series, and I recommend that you start with book 1. There are 2 plots in this book. One is a murder in the fictional town of Three Pines, Quebec, located near the US Vermont border. The second is a group of Surete Quebec officers who want revenge on Gamache for something that happened years before. This part of the story is more thriller, in that the reader learns who the bad guys are in book 2.
The first
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, canada
“Loss was like that, Gamache knew. You didn’t just lose a loved one. You lost your heart, your memories, your laughter, your brain and it even took your bones. Eventually it all came back, but different. Rearranged.”

Another excellent installment in Armand Gamache series. Reading Luise Penny’s books transports me in the idyllic village of Three Pines and fills me up with peacefulness and love for the simple things. This novel was a bit spookier and the atmosphere was less serene but I still immen
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
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Marty Fried
Shelves: audiobook
Louise Penny dazzles with yet another novel in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. This is one binge-worthy collection that never seems to let up! During the Easter Season, the community of Three Pines—nestled in the Eastern Townships of Quebec—is full of colour and excitement, but there is also an evil presence. Some of its residents have sensed it for a long time and have an interest in pushing the spirts away. Of particular concern is the old Hadley House, where many horrific things ha ...more
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
“Gabri rose, trembling, to his feet. ‘Dear God,’ he cried, making the sign of the cross with his fingers. ‘It’s the pre-dead.’

At the mullioned window Ruth Zardo’s eyes narrowed and she gave him half a sign of the cross.”

HA! This is what I love about Penny’s writing. Her characters are such characters, from the gentle Gabri to the crotchety poet Ruth.

The quiet hamlet of Three Pines, near the Canadian-US border, is enjoying/enduring April, with its fickle weather. Trees bud, bulbs bloom, kille
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

3.5 stars

In this 3rd book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, the homicide detective investigates a woman's bizarre death. The book can be read as a standalone but - for maximum enjoyment - the series is best read in order.


The Quebec village of Three Pines, near the United States Vermont border, is a sylvan haven that harbors artists, poets, bohemian inn owners, and a variety of other residents. Three Pines also has more than its share of murders, which makes it well known to Chie
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
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. B
It was Easter Friday in Three Pines and once again the adults were hiding beautifully painted wooden eggs for the children to find. The tradition was a well-honed one after the mistakes of the past. But it was the innocent séance at Clara and Peter’s house after dinner that turned talk to exorcising the evil at the old Hadley house. People had died there in the past; its malevolence was known and felt by all in close proximity. The séance would remove all evil they hoped…

Chief Inspector Armand G
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
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I am a book hopper. I read a variety of genres and usually have about 4 books on the go at the same time and like to read a chunk of each every day if I can. Well I started this last night and basically read it straight through. I loved it. It’s funny because I was reluctant to pick up this series for a long time because it sounded too twee and cosy. It can be that but it is also so much more. These are not the stories of serial killers or madmen, but fermenting and smouldering resentments, brou ...more
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
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! ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2019
Ah Three Pines- you are such a balm for my soul.

I love these characters and most especially agent Armand Gamache. This time there is a seance in the old Hadley house on Easter and someone is quite literally scared to death. Friendships are tested and loyalties challenged as we race to discover who murdered whom. Finally, more information about the Arnot case is shared with the readers- this was leaving me so confused in the last book, and now more has come to light and my beloved Agent Nichol ma
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 3 ... truly enjoyed it!
Heidi The Reader
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
"But Three Pines itself was a village forgotten. Time eddied and swirled and sometimes bumped into it, but never stayed long and never left much of an impression. For hundreds of years the village had nestled in the palm of the rugged Canadian mountains, protected and hidden and rarely found except by accident." pg 10, ebook

Readers are back with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache for another unlikely murder in the village of Three Pines. This time, it appears as if someone was scared literally to de
Dave Schaafsma
Louise Penny is in love with a place, Three Pines, a small village on the outskirts of Quebec. And this is a spring book, so she is in rhapsody about the beauty of the place now. Except that title that makes reference to a line in a TS Eliot poem. And since it is a mystery, we expect a murder, so yes, cruel spring, death among new life. So as with Agatha Christie, you have a middle/upper-middle class setting, cosy, charming, but underneath it all, these murders multiply. Yet, as with Christie, t ...more
Amy Imogene Reads

Penny plays the long game in this one, and it comes to a head—so clever. So clever. I appreciated the mystery, but Gamache’s personal side plot was the true star of the show.

Pacing: ★★★★
Character development: ★★★★★
Mystery: ★★★★

The Cruelest Month is the 4th book in the Armand Gamache detective series, which is the perfect blend of small town cozy mystery setting with devious, large-scale detective murder mysteries.

In this installment, a group of Three Pines residents decide to play with fire
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
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
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
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.

May 舞
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
3.5 stars

A decent mystery but the talk about ghosts and haunted houses got on my nerves pretty badly. Loved the parallel story line about the Arnot case.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery in this story was decent, but the beauty of Penny’s writing, I believe, lies in the way she can take a theme and thread it through more than just the murder plot. It’s paralleled throughout in various relationships and situations. There’s much more to this writing than just the words on the surface. Very, very clever and handily done.

BUT… yes, there’s a “but.” Please don’t ask me to buy into those machinations happening behind the scenes of the Sûreté… all this conspiring against Ga
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.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This 3rd installment in the Inspector Gamache is set during Easter. This time the crime committed at three Pines involves the spooky Hadley house, a séance, and a psychic. This novel does involve a lot of Inspector Gamache's backstory which at first I found a bit distracting but by the end I was 100% interested in both the crime and the backstory. This may not be my favorite so far, but I do love all the characters in Three Pines. I am definitely looking forward to continuing this series. ...more
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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)
  • 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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