"This is what comes of trust and friendship, loyalty and love.
Betrayed...wounded so deeply you can barely breathe and sometimes
it kills you."
Something killed Jane Neal, and it wasn't natural causes. But was
it trust or even friendship? She certainly had a lot of both. A
gentle soul, Jane lived contentedly among the villagers of Three
Pines, Quebec. The little town, a few miles from Montreal, is
shocked at the loss of one of its oldest residents and mourns her
passing deeply. Once a beloved schoolteacher, Jane had been retired
many years and long numbered among the myriad artists living in
Three Pines. However, there was only one time that she entered one
of her paintings in the Arts Williamsburg show. Shortly thereafter,
she was dead. Her art seemed harmless enough, almost simplistic
some would say. What could possibly have led anyone to murder over
Jane Neal's picture? Maybe it was just coincidence.
And maybe it wasn't murder. It could have been an accident.
Certainly, L'Inspecteur Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec
starts with that assumption in mind. Three Pines is, after all, a
bucolic village worlds away from the big city troubles of Quebec.
The mere thought that any of the townfolk could be capable of a
cold-blooded murder goes against his grain in the midst of the
peace and beauty of the tiny community.
The many very charming --- and a few not so charming --- people who
knew Miss Jane Neal step up to assist L'Inspecteur Gamache with
their personal theories, most of them pretty wild and unrealistic.
But Clara, one of Jane's dearest friends and a gifted artist in her
own right, provides Gamache and his team with some excellent food
for thought. Clara's insights are astute and her intimate knowledge
of the dead woman seems invaluable. As they all work to unravel the
mystery of Jane's death, formerly buried secrets of some Three
Pines' residents are revealed, and they are real doozies.
Author Louise Penny is a master of creating delightful characters
--- frankly, even the most evil among them, for they are
delightfully horrid. STILL LIFE is a great slice of small town
life, with a thorny mystery driving a solid, uncomplicated
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 23, 2011