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.