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

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The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel + A Fatal Grace: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel + A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
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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: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


“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

“Don’t look for the hamlet of Three Pines anywhere on a map . . . although Louise Penny has made the town and its residents so real . . . that you might just try to find it.”
---The Chicago Tribune

“[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

“This cerebral mystery . . . is a rare treat.”
---People on Still Life

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

Well described characters....twists and turn in story line....interesting ending.
I read the first Louise Penny book, Still Life, for my book club and have finished The Cruelest Month, the third in her series.
Virginia Champion
Louise Penny is a very unusual mystery writer because she spends as many words developing characters as she does plot.
elizabeth odoroff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 104 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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59 of 65 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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul Carrier on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A murder during a séance? It sounds a bit over the top, even as the centerpiece of a mystery novel. But if the author is Louise Penny and the investigator is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec provincial police, what may seem tiresomely gothic proves to be anything but.

In this third volume of Penny's Gamache mysteries, the Montreal-based detective revisits the tidy and obscure, but murder-prone, village of Three Pines, this time to decide if local resident Madeleine Favreau died of fright or was killed.

You can rule out fright.

As she did in the previous installment of the series, Penny mixes a stable of recurring locals with a few newcomers, including the murder victim and several potential suspects. But it is Gamache himself who is the most intriguing character in "The Cruelest Month," and the reason fans keep coming back for more. Compassionate, complex, thoughtful and a tad mystical in his outlook, Gamache is, at the same time, a seasoned pro with a stellar track record of solving murders.

Just as fascinating as the quest to identify Favreau's killer is the escalation of a behind-the-scenes campaign by conspirators within the Sûreté du Quebec (as the provincial police are known) to destroy Gamache for the role he played several years earlier in bringing renegade officers to justice.

Penny first hinted at Gamache's professional troubles in "Still Life," the first book in the series, and she began filling in the missing pieces in "A Fatal Grace." But it is here that the reader's patience is rewarded with a more detailed explanation of how Gamache's principled stand fueled a drive for retribution.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Snaildarter on March 16, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've enjoyed this series, and I recommend it to those who like the genre. I do want to say, though, that I'm weary of the author not letting the readers in on the secrets. Over, over, and over, Penny has a detective discover something, or another character see something, and toys with the reader by not saying what it was. OK, once in while that's a device that will keep people reading. But not EVERY disovery, or EVERY insight, or EVERY time a character sees ANYTHING. Enough! Do it once per book, maybe twice at most, and then just write, and forget the devices. Louise Penny is a good enough writer that she doesn't need devices to keep people writing.

And one other thing -- sometimes the repartee among the characters drags. I sometimes skip through the chatter, because it's just a little *too* cozy. So here's my advice to the author: tighten up the dialogue, quit teasing the reader, and TRUST the reader to just enjoy a good yarn with well drawn characters. It'll work, trust me.
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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Big Mac on March 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Book Club Review
The Cruelest Month
Louise Penny

Our book club's book for March was THE CRUELEST MONTH, by Louise Penny. We decided on this book because it intersected two themes we have been thinking about reading. The first one was wanting to read a "cozy." The second was wanting to reading something either written by a Canadian or set in Canada. (We were talking about how close Canada is, and yet how little we really know about it. We have also read other Canadian mysteries, and have enjoyed them.)

This is (it turns out) the third in a series set in the fictional Quebec town of Three Pines. A beloved local resident--a cancer survivor who fled life in the big city for something more simple--dies during a seance, which takes place in the town's "haunted house." The investigative team led by Armand Gamache is called in to figure out what has happened. Was it murder? Can you literally scare someone to death? In the meantime, Gamache--who has blown the whistle on some terrible goings-on in the department--is the target of a cruel vendetta that seeks to ruin him, his family, and his career.

In some ways Three Pines is a sort of Quebecois version of St. Mary Mead, complete with all the delightful businesses and local characters that one expects in a cozy. But Three Pines is an update of that typical village; the author works hard at making the cast overtly "diverse," including a much-beloved and accepted gay couple and a black woman who runs the local bookstore. The investigation does proceed very slowly, with a psychologically perceptive but somehow not very satisfying conclusion.
This was a book that, as a club, we felt we really wanted to like, but we were left feeling disappointed, underwhelmed even.
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