Our library always has a display of new books so imagine my excitement when I saw there was a Louise Penny book there that I hadn’t read. It turns out that this is a new edition of her first Chief Inspector Gamache book which was originally written in 2005.
Unlike many detective novels, Gamache is not the usual detective – traumatised like James Lee Burke’s Robicheux; a single, alcoholic with dementia like Rankin’s Rebus or a single pedant like Christie’s Poirot. No, Gamache is a well-rounded individual with a family, happily married and kind to all he meets and works with. And it is this kindness and understanding of people that supports him in his work, solving cases by thinking and working closely with others. This is quite refreshing but it in no way makes the story less threatening or like being in a horror scene at the end.
Still Life is a story of parents and children. How children do things that scare their parents, disobey their parents and take out their anger and frustration on their parents. It is also about parents who ignore their children or who are scared of their children or who have not noticed something about their children.
Jane Neal, the woman who was killed, however, noticed it all and recorded village life in her paintings on the wall of her home and of course the answer to the riddle of who killed her was there, right in front of their eyes.
This book felt much more familiar than the last one I read, The Madness of Crowds, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, reading it in about 24 hours.