Thursday, October 1, 2009


Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back in Three Pines with his murder investigation team. This time a body has been left in Olivier Brulé's bistro. The team quickly learns that he was killed elsewhere and delivered to the bistro, left to be discovered. The man appears to be unknown to everyone in the close-knit little town. Where did he come from? Who is he? And most importantly, who would leave a dead body in Olivier's bistro? As a plethora of suspects begin to emerge, hidden secrets about the inhabitants of Three Pines also begin to rear their heads. "Chaos is coming, old son."

THE BRUTAL TELLING is Louise Penny's fifth book in the Inspector Gamache series and it is easily the most powerful book I have read this year. Readers will leave this book feeling equally haunted and inspired. Penny manages to reach the tips of the reader's every emotion in her tale of humanity.

What I find most amazing about Penny's writing is her ability to tap into all the minute, yet vital, elements of man and more importantly, man's interaction with others. She sees and meticulously illustrates what most people overlook and take for granted; it is this talent that makes her writing stand out so brilliantly.

In many ways, Penny wrote this review herself in the lines of this book. All of the elements that have won her awards and recognition are present only magnified ten-fold. Her endearing characters: "He smiled and not for the first time she thought the rarest thing she'd ever found was Chief Inspector Gamache." Her distinct setting:

"This solid little village that never changed but helped its inhabitants to change. She'd arrived straight from art college full of avant-garde ideas, wearing shades of gray and seeing the world in black and white. So sure of herself. But here, in the middle of nowhere, she'd discovered color. And nuance. She'd learned from the villagers, who'd been generous enough to lend her their souls to paint. Not as perfect human beings, but as flawed, struggling men and women. Filled with fear and uncertainty, and in at least one case martinis."
Her unique humor:

"In Beauvoir's experience Darwin was way wrong. The fittest didn't survive. They were killed by the idiocy of their neighbors, who continued to bumble along oblivious."
Her characters are the rarest; her setting does more than help its inhabitants change, it helps the readers change as well. And her humor is expertly woven into the fabric of the characters and the plot.

The plot of THE BRUTAL TELLING is unparalleled. This is a plot that demands to be read over and over to even come close to grasping the full meaning and complexity.

When speaking to a friend about Louise Penny's writing, I said, "it is art on many levels." That statement is an oversimplification of the richly amazing stories she paints across the pages of her books. In THE BRUTAL TELLING we hope that the world is about to discover Clara Morrow. The people of Three Pines have known for a very long time that she is extraordinary and it is now time for the rest of the world to discover that as well. With the publication of THE BRUTAL TELLING we hope that the world is about to discover Louise Penny. The mystery community has known that she is extraordinary for quite some time; it's time for the rest of the world to know as well.

THE BRUTAL TELLING was released in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-37703-8) last week from St. Martin's Minotaur.


Kaye Barley October 1, 2009 at 7:35 AM  

GREAT review, Jen!
I think THE BRUTAL TELLING in a phenomenal book. I kinda think Louise Penny is pretty darned phenomenal too. Here's hoping for another beezillion Inspector Gamache books!

Kay October 1, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

Jen, your review was extraordinary, girl! And I agree with you completely about THE BRUTAL TELLING. I was trying to describe Louise's books to a new member of my mystery book group and it was difficult. I told her they are sheer poetry and fairy tale and murder mystery and works of art. She looked a little overwhelmed! :-) That's how I feel though and I love how you described Clara above and then compared her to Louise at this stage of her writing career. She so deserves any and all acclaim that she receives. She is a true artist of her craft.

Louise Penny Author October 1, 2009 at 8:35 PM  

Dear Jen,

Thank you for reading The Brutal Telling with not just your head, but your spirit. My spirit thanks yours.

Corey Wilde October 1, 2009 at 11:00 PM  

Bravo, Jen! I'm looking forward to this latest from Penny. I think you've captured that special essence that is her writing.

♥Jen♥ October 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

Louise, thanks so much for stopping by...and leaving a comment. Such a gift. I can't imagine not reading the Armand Gamache novels with anything but your spirit. He simply demands that you surrender it to him. So amazing!

Kaye, Kay, and Corey, thank you so much. I have to admit that I labored over this review because I just felt I was never quite doing the book the justice it deserves. But then I finally said, the only thing that can truly do the book justice is the book itself. If I can simply encourage someone to pick it up, then the book will work its own magic! :) I hope that someone does pick it up!! Thank you all for your kind words.

Naomi Johnson October 2, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

I always look forward to a Louise Penny book. Characters, setting AND plot: her books have no weak points.

Jen - devourer of books October 7, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

Okay, I don't read a lot of books in this genre, but you've intrigued me. Could I read "The Brutal Telling" without reading her earlier books? Are her earlier books similarly amazing?

♥Jen♥ October 7, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

Jen, you can absolutely read the THREE PINES series out of order. And yes, all of her books are amazing. They really are. And for the sake of disclosure, I read the first four of my own accord, bought them all myself...received an ARC of BRUTAL TELLING from The Library Thing and then bought BRUTAL TELLING! (There you go FTC) I agree whole-heartedly with Naomi that Louise Penny's books have no weak points. They are amazing and THE BRUTAL TELLING is over the top! :) Please let me know if you read one. I have a striking suspicion that if you read one, you'll want to read them all...immediately! Also, if you enjoy audiobooks, this series is AMAZING on audio (and I borrowed them all from the library).

Jen - Devourer of Books October 8, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

Thanks! I think I'll grab one of her books from the library, I'll have to see what they have in. Good readathon books, maybe?

♥Jen♥ October 8, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

Oh Jen, any of her books would make great read-a-thon books. You might even want to get more than one because I think you'll love the characters so much you'll want to go right to the next tale. Enjoy! I'm even a little envious because you're going to get to experience them for the first time. It's such a wonderful pleasure!

Anonymous November 30, 2009 at 7:55 AM  

I am still thinking about the title "Brutal Telling", it was mentioned early in the book and then not at all the remainder. What's with that?

Jen Forbus November 30, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

Hi Lucy,

I can be obsessive about titles. I love to analyze their connection to the story, so my take on titles is always related to their meaning in the book, rather than any specific references. Many of the best titles I've found are specifically referenced vary rarely to not at all. I think THE BRUTAL TELLING was an exquisite choice for this tale.

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