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The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Paperback – April 12, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Chief Insp. Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Québec village of Three Pines in Penny's expertly plotted third cozy (after 2007's A Fatal Grace). As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a séance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Sûreté du Québec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name. Arthur Ellis Award–winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Gamache is a prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives. (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

The cozy mystery has a graceful practitioner in Louise Penny. (The New York Times Book Review)

[A Fatal Grace] is not the usual 'cosy' or even a traditional puzzle mystery. It's a finely written, intelligent, and observant book. (The Houston Chronicle)

A remarkable new writer . . . Louise Penny arrives with flair, humanity, and intrigue in her debut novel, Still Life. . . . Elegant writing alone would not carry this remarkable book; Penny also creates a puzzle worthy of the masters. But more important, she studies issues of good and evil, of human nature, of human kindness, and human cruelty. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch)
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Product Details

  • Series: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312573502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312573508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (625 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Jessica on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is #3 in the Three Pines mysteries and I am guessing that the negative reviews of this book come from people who have not read the previous two books. This book relied on a continuation of storylines from the previous books much more than book #2. I really enjoyed Cruelest Month and a big part of the reason I liked it is because it resolved some of the issues left in suspense from book #2. This author is such an incredible writer and the mysteries are intricate and surprising, so that I think this book is still strong on its own, but I definitely think you should read the first two books to truly appreciate #3. I couldn't disagree more about another reviewer's assessment that the characters are boring. The diverse, complicated, and realistic characters are why I love these books so much. Every book gives the reader more insight on each of the main characters. I really have a soft spot for Clara and Peter. The only reason I gave this book four and a half stars instead of five is because the end felt slightly unabalanced, with more focus on the culmination of the political intrigue/conspiracy to bring Gamache down than the resolution of the murder. I thought the "outing" of the murderer suffered slightly at having so much going on for Gamache personally. But still a fantastic book and I am eagerly awaiting hte next installment.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on December 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
First Sentence: Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper.

It is Easter and Inspector Armand Gamache has been called back to the small town of Three Pines where a woman has been literally frightened to death during a séance in the old Handley mansion. Gamache has his own ghosts to uncover as someone is out to destroy his career, his life and that of his family. To save himself, he must uncover a murderer and a spy in his midst.

There are not a lot of authors whose words beg me to read them aloud, but I spent the weekend annoying a friend with my constant "Listen to this...". There is such humor and incite in Penny's writing. For me, she hits all the right notes; wonderful sense of place, fascinating well-rounded human characters, excellent dialogue, a bit of suspense, meticulous plotting and just a faint touch of spiritualism. I came away from this, and all her books, feeling I've been giving a bit of insight on human nature but never that I've been preached to.

For me, this book was so much more than a basic traditional mystery and quite possibly, the best of her books yet. The only problem I had with this book was that life kept getting in the way of my reading time. Highly recommended.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By B. J. Wassmer on March 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished The Cruelest Month which I had pre-ordered after thoroughly enjoying the first two books in the Three Pines series. This author's character development is amazing. I want to know Clara, Peter, Myrna, Ruth, Gabri and Olivier in real life. They are such caring neighbors and genuinely love each other in spite of their flaws like true friends do. I grew up in such a town and miss it every day. If I could find Three Pines I would visit it soon. I just want to thank Louise Penny for taking me away from everyday life for a few hours again and making me smile, cry, shudder, cringe and laugh outloud. Can't wait for the next installment!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. Bigelow VINE VOICE on February 14, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third book in Louise Penny's excellent series featuring Sûreté du Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team. Gamache is called back to the small village of Three Pines when a woman dies of fright at a seance attended by several of the local villagers. The medical examiner rules the death a murder because ephedra, a banned diet drug known to cause heart attacks, is found in the dead woman's system. Gamache does not lack for suspects who had both the motive and means to slip the dead woman the drug.

Not only must Gamache deal with the murder, but a series of stories appear in the Montreal newspapers accusing him of being in cahoots with Superintendent Arnot, a Sûreté officer Gamache arrested for murder knowing that he would no longer be part of the inner circle of the Sûreté du Québec and his career would be stalled. His fellow officers either loved or hated his actions, but now someone has started a hate campaign in the newspapers against him. Gamache does not respond knowing that it will only add fuel to his detractors. However, when the instigator goes after Gamache's grown son and daughter, he goes toe to toe with the man he believes is behind the attacks only to find out that he was wrong, very wrong.

Once again, Penny has written a wonderfully rich and detailed procedural set in a village whose residents are quirkily unique, like the renowned poet Ruth Zardo who, in this outing, has bonded with a pair of ducklings. Each time Penny returns Gamache to Three Pines, readers learn a little more about the residents and by this outing, it is as if the reader is catching up with old friends.

Penny's writing is fluid and rich. In every book, the reader will find sentences that compel her/him to write them down.
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