I received The Brutal Telling, the fifth in Louise Penny's Inspectpr Gamache mystery series, through LibraryThing's Early Review program. I was so utterly charmed that I ordered the first four books in the series. This series is a new favorite of mine. Chief Inspector Gamache, of the Surete in Quebec, investigates murders primarily in the tiny village of Three Pines. Penny has a gift for characterization and a flair for mystery.
Still Life by Louise Penny (#1): The body of eccentric artist Jane Neal is found outside the village of Three Pines, and Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate what appears to be a hunting accident. But the plot quickly thickens with suspects as Jane's dreadful niece, Yolande, turns up to claim her inheritance and villagers' secrets are brought into the light. Penny is a master of both mystery and the village novel. Her characters are rich and vibrant, their relationships complex and satisfying, the mystery plausible yet not obvious. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are smart and determined. Penny's prose is beautiful and the reader is drawn into Three Pines and its wonderful inhabitants.
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (#2): No one mourns when abrasive socialite (and self-made spiritual guide) CC dePoitiers is electrocuted during a curling match during the Christmas season. But Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate. CC's lover, her abused daughter, and any number of villagers offended by her are all suspects. The mystery is involved, and while the method of murder seems overly complicated, Penny kept me guessing until the end.
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny (#3): In this entry, the villagers of Three Pines hold a seance in the old Hadley house, and Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. Naturally, there is more to the story, and Chief Inspector Gamache and his team arrive to investigate. A subplot involving Gamache's accusations about a superior has Gamache wondering if there is a mole on his team.
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (#4): Gamache and his wife are on holiday at Manoir Bellechasse, a lovely, peaceful resort. Vacationing with them are the Finney family, including Three Pines residents Peter and Clara Morrow. When a statue of the Finney pater crushes one of his daughters, Gamache's carefree holiday is at an end. Leaving Three Pines for a book was probably a good idea, since the village is tiny and would soon run out of residents. And the Manoir, with its intriguing staff and contentious guests, was a delightful setting.
Source disclosure: I purchased these books.