Merrimon Book Reviews

First edition of Charlotte's Web

Bohuslav Martinu, Czech composer

"Scheherazade Went on with Her Story". Illustration from "Arabian Nights" by Virginia Frances Sterrett, 1928

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Brutal Telling
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
by Louise Penny

Beautifully written!

When a body is found in the bistro and antique store of Three Pines, Quebec, Inspector Gamache has his task cut out for him.  First he must discover the identity of the murdered man, a task which proves to be none to easy.  The case becomes more and more complex as the town residents all have something to hide.  Inspector Gamache starts on a trail that will lead him to examine codes, art and history and above all the inner narratives of the human mind and the dark depths of the human heart.

Louise Penny's THE BRUTAL TELLING is mystery for readers looking for more in their mysteries than just a clever puzzle.  The writing itself is absolutely beautiful.  Art of all kinds graces the pages of the mystery from paintings to the craftsmanship of antiques to the art of the narrative form.  Indeed, Louise Penny interweaves storytelling itself with the hunt for the victim's identity and the murderer.  Olivier the bistro owner tells a haunting mythological fairy tale of chaos and evil descending upon a village to the Hermit.  The tale itself has thematic resonances to the village of Three Pines and the murder case as the villagers themselves realize the murderer is likely one of them.  Juxtaposed next to Inspector Gamache's hunt for the crime details, Olivier's story reinforces Gamache's ability to look within the human heart for the deeper undercurrents, the inner narratives people hold within them.  THE BRUTAL TELLING is simply stunning.  Louise Penny does an excellent job at creating an atmosphere that draws the reader into the world of Three Pines as well as the psychological landscape, not through dry medical language but rather by creating a world layered with many elements.  Even if one guesses the identity of the murderer before the end, the actual identity seems less the point than the motive and all the twists and turns that lead to the unraveling of the darkness and psychology that lead to the crime.  The diverse range of clues from the mythological to obscure codes to village history all take the reader down an intriguing path that celebrates both art and history --- and the darkness that lingers within the heart. 

Fifth in the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mysteries, THE BRUTAL TELLING works as a stand alone for readers new to Inspector Gamache mysteries, but once discovered, this Inspector Gamache mystery with leave readers craving to re-experience the author's writing and Inspector Gamache's unique style of investigation in earlier and future releases.  For those who enjoy both literary fiction and mysteries, THE BRUTAL TELLING is truly superb!

Minotaur Books (September 22, 2009)
A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
Other  Inspector Gamache/Three Pines Novels: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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