The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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Group Read Discussions > April Group Read Topic (Spoilers) - Still Life by Louise Penny

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill | 5462 comments Hello all - this is something new we're trying. This is for discussing Still Life by Louise Penny but this thread will be FULL OF SPOILERS. If you haven't read the book yet and don't want to ruin the ending, hop on over to the spoiler-filled discussion HERE .

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 2: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 02, 2018 08:25AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Thanks Bill!

This is the thread for those who finished the book. If you didn't finish it yet beware of spoilers!

Overall, how did you like the book?
What surprised you?
What did you learn that you didn't know before?


message 3: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments I will return to this question, Nancy. I adored the book and it was not a cozy mystery at all. It was very different, however, and it gave me room for thought.

I felt as if I had entered the art world at Three Pines------really entered it, and the notion that Jane's art had created such a major turn of events was an oddity, or that she never allowed anyone past the kitchen area. I had to stop and wonder how we may think we really know the people in our lives, yet they may be filled with surprises.


message 4: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) I just learned the term "cozy mystery" from goodreads last year, when I saw this book categorized as one. I can see how it might "feel" cozy because, well, Three Pines does sound pretty friendly and cozy, and in the first couple books the murders do take place in Three Pines. Later books however take Gamache farther away, and involve larger, more complex cases, and police corruption, so the label doesn't seem to fit.

I also get the impression that cozy mysteries are solved by people who are not professional police officers or detectives. And they often seem to have yummy food or desserts in the title. (Or maybe I was just hungry when I read a list of cozy mysteries.)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 552 comments I would not call any book in this series a "cozy mystery."


message 6: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Skye wrote: " ..

I felt as if I had entered the art world ..."


Yeah, me too, even more so in a few of the later books. I loved the scene when the committee had to decide whether or not to accept Jane's art work for the show. I loved the final rationale for saying yes.


message 7: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "I would not call any book in this series a "cozy mystery.""

I agree, Susanna; cozies are very light, usually cute and breezy.


message 8: by Bill (new)

Bill | 5462 comments I wouldn't call it cozy mystery either. I think it's one of those rich mysteries where the mystery is important but what is more important is an exploration of the people in the community, down to what they do, the food they eat, the richness and quality of the area in which they reside. The Gamache books remind me of the Bruno, chief of Police mysteries by Martin Walker and the Inspector Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 552 comments Skye wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "I would not call any book in this series a "cozy mystery.""

I agree, Susanna; cozies are very light, usually cute and breezy."


And often with terrible puns in their titles. They're cute. (I would say sometimes they're cutesy.)


message 10: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Bill wrote: "I wouldn't call it cozy mystery either. I think it's one of those rich mysteries where the mystery is important but what is more important is an exploration of the people in the community, down to ..."

What an amazing comparison, and it's true; I need to investigate Walker and Leon's books, Bill. I found this book to be somewhat similar to Ann Cleeves' series.


message 11: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Skye wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "I would not call any book in this series a "cozy mystery.""

I agree, Susanna; cozies are very light, usually cute and breezy."

And often with ..."


Yes, yes, yes!


message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda (beaulieulinda117gmailcom) | 1382 comments I agree with that assessment.


message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill | 5462 comments Skye wrote: "Bill wrote: "I wouldn't call it cozy mystery either. I think it's one of those rich mysteries where the mystery is important but what is more important is an exploration of the people in the commun..."

Which one? or do you mean all of them?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 552 comments I'd say it could refer to all of them. (I've read the whole series.)


message 15: by Suzy (last edited Apr 03, 2018 07:52AM) (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments It's hard to discuss this book without showering heaps of love on the whole series since it's been around for so long. It makes me happy if people are reading this for the first time and discovering Three Pines and its residents and Gamache and his team from the Surete in Montreal. Still Life hooked me!

Any audiobook lovers out there? The narrator of the first 10 books, Ralph Cosham, IS Gamache! One of the best narrators ever sadly died in 2014.


message 16: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of Ann Cleeves series, but The Shetland Island mysteries have in common with all these that the place is as much a character as the people.


message 17: by Randi (last edited Apr 03, 2018 07:52AM) (new)

Randi | 34 comments I'm in agreement with the Non-Cozy category for this book. Funny, because I am part of a Cozy Mystery club here on GR, and was not really enjoying the books so I asked for suggestions for a 'Less fluffy" Cozy series, and several people recommended Inspector Gamache. Great suggestion, but I don't believe this series is at all Cozy.

Questions: I absolutely loved Still Life, it has become my favorite series.

What surprised me? Hmmm, well I am about to start the re-read so I'll come back to this.

What did I learn? Honestly, I'm embarrassed to say this but I knew very little about Quebec; the people, history, culture and the geography. And now I'm learning!


message 18: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 266 comments Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of Ann Cleeves serie..."

I just read Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice a couple of weeks ago & i totally agree, it does remind me of Still Life. The focus in both books, is on characters, their lives & setting, the mystery is just the icing on an already delicious cake.

We need to find another term to describe these books.....cozy just doesn’t cut it......unless we call the mysteries that include puns, rhymes & recipes “cutesy” mysteries as Susanna called them 😉


message 19: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of Ann Cleeves serie..."

Suzy, you always have some interesting thing to say.


message 20: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Icewineanne wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of [author:Ann Cleeves..."

I really need to read Donna Leon, and I think Still Life is a good, solid, classical mystery with many twists and turns, but not a psychological thriller. Focus is on characterization as well as setting, too. This novel could not occur in a city or seashore.


message 21: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments I've discussed this book before in other groups and the issue of "cozy" has come up in both discussions.

I think of these as "murder mysteries", period! There's always a murder and a team from the Surete is dispatched to solve it. Because the town of Three Pines feels cozy doesn't mean these are "cozies". And as has been mentioned, not all the books in the series take place in Three Pines. Most readers shelve this book in fiction, crime or mystery.


message 22: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments Skye wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of [author:Ann Cleeves..."

Thanks, Skye! :)


message 23: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments Icewineanne wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of [author:Ann Cleeves..."

I've really liked Leon's books, but think Penny's writing is much better, especially in the early books in the series.


message 24: by Icewineanne (last edited Apr 03, 2018 10:00AM) (new)

Icewineanne | 266 comments Suzy wrote: "Icewineanne wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of..."

I enjoyed the first one, will have to see how the next book in the series goes. That will determine if I continue with it.
I’m also a huge Ann Cleeves & Deb Crombie fan. These two series are also in the same vein as Louise Penny’s........excellent murder mysteries- “cozy” without the silliness.


message 25: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments I adore Ann Cleeves' Shetland books. I will check out Deb Crombie


message 26: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Thanks I put the Bruno and Brunetti titles on my to read list. The first Ann Cleeves book I read didn't connect with me as much, but maybe her other series will.

Ganache seems to have a high level of emotional and social intelligence. He listens and empathizes with people so well. I'm only a few chapters into my re-read, so I can't remember when he started to suspect the killer. Was it as the first meeting, or when he learned more about what happened on Fair Day?


message 27: by Randi (new)

Randi | 34 comments I'm thinking the Gamache series could also be classified as "Literary Police Procedural", because we certainly see the step by step process of discovering and catching the murderer.


message 28: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments Literary Police Procedural works well.


message 29: by Skye (new)

Skye | 2105 comments I believe it was when he began to investigate Fair Day. He had a definitive point of view, however, about the bow and arrow; he doggedly pursued his instincts, too. I believe Gamache operated on a intellectual level with a psychological thrust.


message 30: by Randi (last edited Apr 03, 2018 12:27PM) (new)

Randi | 34 comments Skye wrote: I believe Gamache operated on a intellectual level with a psychological thrust.

Yes!


message 31: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 03, 2018 06:22PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) I agree with the addition of the term LITERARY. I don't know if it's her writing style or the addition of poetry in many of the books. The inclusion of art, music really helps too. A lot of mysteries and thrillers are down and dirty. When I finish reading a book in this series, I sometimes feel more elevated, if that makes sense.


message 32: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 03, 2018 06:22PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Suzy... I think of these as "murder mysteries", period! There's always a murder and a team from th..."

I agree. Sometimes the Recommendations software on this site just gets it wrong.


message 33: by Jess (new)

Jess (mividadulce) | 13 comments One questions, so the spoiler is limited for book one, Still Life, and we shouldn't discuss about the following books - is that correct?


message 34: by jennsquared (new)

jennsquared | 48 comments Suzy I'm an audiobook fan!!!! I love the way the book was read even tho I had to rewindv it a couple of times because I couldn't understand some words!!!!


message 35: by jennsquared (new)

jennsquared | 48 comments Jess, please don't spoil the rest of the series!!!!! I'm on the waiting list for book two audiobook!!!!


message 36: by Jess (new)

Jess (mividadulce) | 13 comments I understand why some say this is not cozy but this series definitely makes me feel cozy reading it.

It is disturbing time to time, and the philosophic questions around human nature or weakness is not at all light and bubbly. But I think Penny's view on mankind (with exception of some 'vilians') is rather positive. That's why it and makes me feel comfortable and cozy reading her work.

I think Ann Cleeves' Vera series (though I've only read first two books) is a good comparison. Both Vera and Gamache series are calm and not filled with brutality or silliness. They both avoid too much gore or sexual description and rather focused on describing people or atmosphere.

However, the big difference for me, is that (at least the first two books of) Vera series left me with chill and weariness after reading them while Gamache series makes me feel hopeful, and positive.

*I feel more positive about her Shetland Island series. I'll try more of this series.


message 37: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments NancyJ wrote: "I agree with the addition of the term LITERARY. I don't know if it's her writing style or the addition of poetry in many of the books. The inclusion of art, music really helps too. A lot of mysteri..."

Agree!


message 38: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Jess wrote: "One questions, so the spoiler is limited for book one, Still Life, and we shouldn't discuss about the following books - is that correct?"

Yes, this is only for book one - Still Life. I think it's OK to refer to future books in general terms, or to provide a light teaser (e.g. I mentioned we'll meet Peter's family in a future book), but no plot spoilers.

So far, we haven't even discussed any true spoilers for book one.


message 39: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 03, 2018 07:24PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Jess wrote: "I understand why some say this is not cozy but this series definitely makes me feel cozy reading it.

It is disturbing time to time, and the philosophic questions around human nature or weakness i..."


Well said Jess. I like that view of human nature, and I feel that these books enrich my life a little too. I often feel "at home" when I read about Three Pines. I like learning about different cultures, and some of her books include information based on thorough research on a person or event. Plus Gamache is a good role model for authenticity, character and communication skills. I find myself trying to listen with more care and empathy.


message 40: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 03, 2018 07:31PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) jennsquared wrote: "Suzy I'm an audiobook fan!!!! I love the way the book was read even tho I had to rewindv it a couple of times because I couldn't understand some words!!!!"

It took me a while to understand the French pronunciations, but I really enjoyed the audio performances. I sometimes had both the book and the CDs and I had to switch back and forth to match up the French pronunciations and spellings of words. I think that I retain information better when I read with my eyes, but I enjoy listening too.


message 41: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 266 comments NancyJ wrote: "jennsquared wrote: "Suzy I'm an audiobook fan!!!! I love the way the book was read even tho I had to rewindv it a couple of times because I couldn't understand some words!!!!"

It took me a while t..."


I did the same thing with Crocodile on the Sandbank...........i listened to the audio & then went back to the ebook to see the spellings of Egyptian archeological digs, towns & names. And I totally agree with you, I remember more when i am actively reading vs passively listening.


message 42: by Jess (new)

Jess (mividadulce) | 13 comments jennsquared wrote: "Jess, please don't spoil the rest of the series!!!!! I'm on the waiting list for book two audiobook!!!!"

No worries, I won't! Hope you enjoy the book two as well


message 43: by Prakash (new)

Prakash Khanchandani | 52 comments Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of Ann Cleeves serie..."

I don't get the similarities between the series by Donna Leon and Louise Penny. However, I always associate Brunetti series of Leon with the Montalbano series by Andrea CamilleriAndrea Camilleri.


message 44: by Jess (new)

Jess (mividadulce) | 13 comments Has anyone guessed the murderer? I read this book some time ago so I can't remember all the details but I got him pretty early on. But I never picked him up lying about his mother..


message 45: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 660 comments Prakash wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of [author:Ann Cleeves..."

My reason for the Brunetti and Gamache mysteries being similar: both philosophical men, tend to give the benefit of the doubt, confer with their wives about their work, feature their relationships with their children, great food and wine, etc.


message 46: by Bill (new)

Bill | 5462 comments Suzy wrote: "Prakash wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I agree that this series reminds me of early Brunetti by Donna Leon and Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker. I hadn't thought of [au..."

My reasons as well, Suzy.


message 47: by Linda (new)

Linda (beaulieulinda117gmailcom) | 1382 comments I'll have to try the other series as well.


message 48: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) | 3 comments NancyJ wrote: "I just learned the term "cozy mystery" from goodreads last year, when I saw this book categorized as one. I can see how it might "feel" cozy because, well, Three Pines does sound pretty friendly an..."

I am in the Cozy Mysteries group and I find many people have different concepts of what a cozy mystery is. Mainly it's because they are reading cozies because they don't want too much violence and NO cursing or sex.

So, they put any mystery with no sex or profanity in that pile. That will include older mysteries like Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers.

Which isn't true IMHO.

To me a cozy has elements such as:

- quirky characters
- usually a small town
- amateur sleuth
- short book
- light and fluffy


message 49: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) | 3 comments Bill wrote: "I wouldn't call it cozy mystery either. I think it's one of those rich mysteries where the mystery is important but what is more important is an exploration of the people in the community, down to ..."

Totally agree, Bill!! Love those series you mention.


message 50: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) | 3 comments Haven't read book #2 in this series yet. Would love to read it with someone else who wants to continue with this series (DM me!!).

Loved the first book. An excellent mystery. Reminded me slightly of Ngaio Marsh's old Inspector Alleyn series.


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