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The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Paperback – April 12, 2011
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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.
“With its small-town hominess, the Canadian village of Three Pines draws the reader into its quaint traditions. Who wouldn't be charmed by the dramas of a community where Easter egg hunts and socials at the bed and breakfast are the most exciting events?”
“Mystery readers who want more than puzzles and thrills look for serious purpose and literary value, and Canadian writer Louise Penny provides both in spades - and hearts.”
“Louise Penny is almost single handedly taking us back to the good old days of the traditional village mystery. Influenced by Simenon, Christie, and Sayers before her, Penny is doing them all one better....THE CRUELEST MONTH soars above them all.”
―Mystery News (5 quills out of 5)
“Penny's plotting has been compared to Agatha Christie's, and indeed she follows the same method of tossing out so many clues that the few salient ones are impossible to single out. But it's more about the journey than the destination in these wonderful books full of poetry, and weather, and a brooding manor house, and people who read and think and laugh and eat a lot of really excellent food. Move over, Mitford.”
“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.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Penny is an award-winning writer whose cozies go beyond traditional boundaries, providing entertaining characters, a picturesque locale, and thought-provoking plots. Highly recommended.”
―Library Journal (starred)
“Perhaps the deftest talent to arrive since Minette Walters, Penny produces what many have tried but few have mastered: a psychologically acute cozy. If you don’t give your heart to Gamache, you may have no heart to give.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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Top Customer Reviews
But that’s not what really happened. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Montreal Surete is called in with his team. And that they find is not death by fright, but murder.
And behind Gamache’s back, a plan has been hatched at the Surete to destroy him, revenge for his relentless investigation into crooked cops five years earlier. The plot involves members of his team on the ground in Three Pines.
April is, indeed, “The Cruelest Month,” the third of the Inspector Gamache mystery novels by Louise Penny. It’s a story of treachery, love, revenge, and desperation. As for the murder, there are more than enough suspects to go around, each with a motive and the opportunity.
Penny used similar elements in her first two mysteries, “Still Life” and “A Fatal Grace,” balancing Surete politics with the murder investigation. In this one, the police corruption story at times becomes more powerful than the murder story, likely because so much of the story and the details of what happened in Gamache’s corruption probe become known. But this latest plot to destroy Gamache or force his resignation involves his closest friend on the force. April is, indeed, the cruelest month.
Penny brings the story to a satisfactory conclusion, although any of five people could easily have been the guilty party. But what focuses the novel, perhaps even more than the first two, is Gamache, and, specifically, his character. The author has a great love for her detective, and that love communicates itself across the story.
Additionally, I was disappointed by what I saw was an inconsistency in the back story of Agent Nichol. It is stated in the first two books that her father created “Uncle Saul” to explain away the fact he had no family to his horde of in-laws, however in this book it is implied that hordes of aunts and uncles that descend upon the Nichol house are related to him. This annoyed me.
Still I must say that I do enjoy the series. The author’s writing and descriptions are wonderful. I wasn’t as drawn to this murder mystery as I was in the first two books, primarily because this one was less personal to the secondary characters and because of the distraction presented by the ‘Arnot’ subplot.
If you can get beyond the dominance of the Arnot case in this story, then I recommend it and hope that you enjoy it, and if you can’t then give it a miss. There are more books in this series and some of them aren’t even set in Three Pines. Perhaps one of them will be more appealing. That’s up to you.