The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny is the fifth book in the Inspector Gamache series set in the Canadian village of Three Pines (the first is Still Life). I don't ordinarily pick up books in a mystery series out of order, as I really enjoy the book-to-book character involvement, but the premise of this one was too good to resist. A stranger is found murdered in Olivier's bistro in Three Pines. At first, no one admits to knowing the murdered man, a hermit whose cabin is filled with treasures. Inspector Gamache teases out the lies (both material and inane) told by various villagers and pursues Olivier's murky past.
The combination of police procedural and village murder mystery was very well done in The Brutal Telling. Three Pines is an irresistible setting with well-wrought characters to inhabit it. Olivier and Gabri were charming, Clara and Peter, a husband and wife both pursuing careers as artists, were compelling, and the poet with the pet duck both funny and wise. On the investigation side, Inspector Gamache is complex and likable, and his team of Lacoste, Beauvoir, and Morin learn from his experience while teasing out different parts of the mystery themselves. I particularly enjoyed Morin.
I did not feel lost, though this was the fifth book in the series. However, I have purchased the first four books in the series so that I can get to know the Three Pines inhabitants and Gamache's team from the beginning. This is a fantastic book in what I can only imagine is a fantastic series.
Source disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.