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Posts Tagged ‘Louise Penny’

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the second fictional Canadian I’ve encountered this week.

I don’t take my mystery selections lightly – I’ve spent too much time anticipating brilliant denouements and being let down by conclusions of dazzling stupidity and gaping holes. I take great trouble to look online for positive reviews and recommendations among reader communities, especially before starting a new series. Unfortunately, that kills spontaneity and I no longer just pick a mystery on a whim. The last time I did that, which was a while ago, I was thoroughly disappointed.

Still Life is quite a stunning debut. I am intrigued by Chief Inspector Gamache, by the charming French-Canadian village setting of the Three Pines, and its singular residents. In the book, 76 year old former teacher, Jane Neal, dies in what seems on the surface to be a hunting accident. The key to the mystery is a painting, Jane Neal’s work, hence the title Still Art. The novel is entirely engaging and, well, I buy the conclusion.

A wonderful thing about fiction is that one can base it on real life, twist true episodes to make them interesting, or even reproduce smart quotes. Fact can parade as fiction, in the depths of fiction, and very few people need know. A non-fiction writer, however is obliged to stick to the facts and not fantastic peregrinations of his mind.

And there he found himself, holding a worn copy of Being. He’d read Being when it first came out a few years before. The title always reminded him of the day his daughter Annie had come home from first grade with her English homework which was to name three types of beans. She’d written ‘green beans, yellow beens and human beans’.

– From Still Life

That was a delicious little titbit right there. Did an Annie really write about human beans?  Or did Louise Penny think that up?

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