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The Brutal Telling by Louise PennyTitle: The Brutal Telling

Author: Louise Penny

No. of Pages: 372

First Released: September 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N):Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness. No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?

As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling”

Comments and Critiques: First off, I need to apologize to my Canadian friends. Until I read this, I was completely wrong on the location of the province of Quebec. Shame on me. I guess I didn’t realize that there was something east of Ontario other than Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. I’ll be the first to admit that my Canadian geography is a little rusty, and now I know that it is located in Eastern Canada. I also know that based on this boo, it sounds like an absolutely stunning place to visit.

I was pleasantly surprised at The Brutal Telling. I’ve been reading a string of murder mysteries lately and was a bit dubious when I picked it up that I would continue to be interested in this genre. I was wrong. There is so much to like about this book that there was no chance of me losing interest whatsoever. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are charming beyond belief. The people of Three Pines remind me a little bit of the Cheers gang, since they are one very close-knit group of friends. The locale is perfect. Three Pines is so picturesque that it made me want to move there or at least move to a small picturesque northern town where I too can experience life in a small town surrounded by gorgeous countryside.

As I was reading this, I kept hearkening back to lines from both Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, where in both, Jo and Anne are reading Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and comment how it always makes them hungry. I had the same experience here. As the bistro is one of the main attractions in the town and a focal point for the investigation, the food eaten at the bistro and elsewhere throughout the book where given close attention. Descriptions of fresh, warm breads oozing with butter, cheeses, pates, roasted meats of all sorts, creamy pasta dishes plus the desserts not only made me hungry but made me long to find a bistro like that in my town. Rather than detract from the overall story though, it made me want to keep reading, if only to find out what they were going to eat next.

The best image I can use to describe how it felt to read this book is that I savored it. I savored the descriptions of the food and the scenery. I savored the witticisms and commentary of Gamache and his team. This book enveloped me in its secrets. All I needed was a wood fire, a soft blanket, quiet music, and a quiet house and it would have completed the mood set by Ms. Penny.

The story itself was intriguing and kept me guessing. Ms. Penny does a fabulous job of presenting crime detection in all its glory – the dead ends, the endless questions with no answers, the breaks that help drive the case. In addition, her ending is realistic and one I did not see coming. In spite of the quirks and charms of the backdrop, it is the ending where this book shines. Unfortunately, to say more would spoil the fabulousness of that ending but it is worth the patience put forth to get there.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Three Pines. I definitely want to check out more of her Chief Inspector Gamache series to find out if they are as enjoyable as The Brutal Telling. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a mystery and to be enveloped in the story.

Thank you to Tara Cibelli at St. Martin’s for the opportunity to review this ARC!

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