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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Brutal Telling

Penny, Louise.  The Brutal Telling.

This is my second novel about Inspector Gamache novel, and I enjoyed it even more than the first one.

When a man is found murdered in the bistro of the small Canadian village Three Pines, the inhabitants are stunned, unnerved, and distressed by the thought that the murderer may be one of their own. 

My favorite part was the development of some the villagers.  Although Inspector Gamache and his able assistants are busy following clues and certainly at the center of the story, the villagers and their personalities begin to emerge more fully than in the previous novel that was set elsewhere.  Although they were mentioned in A Rule Against Murder, only two had direct involvement in that novel.  Here we see more of Gabri, Olivier, Peter, Clara, and Ruth Zardo.  Ruth Zardo--the elderly, somewhat demented, but celebrated poet--and her duck Rosa are my very favorite characters.

One of her poems was about greed:

Nothing I ever gave was good for you,
It was like white bread to a goldfish.  
They cram and cram and it kills them,
and they drift in the pool, belly up,
making stunned faces
and playing on our guilt
as if their own toxic gluttony
was not their fault.

Her eccentric dinner party is bizarre and entertaining, but as strange, cryptic, and possibly demented as Ruth is, she has a greater understanding of events than anyone else.

There are also new characters introduced that weren't mention in A Rule Against Murder, although some of them may have been in previous novels.

Penny's flawed characters--sometimes funny and touching, at other times selfish and jealous--provide an entertaining mystery and a little insight into human nature.  For me, the success of this book is more in the characters than in the plot.

Fiction.  Mystery.  2009.  372 pages.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Brutal Telling, Jenclair. I've got to get this one read. Well, actually, I have put it back for a while in order to not have such a long time before the next one comes out. I look forward to being back in Three Pines sometime soon.

  2. Oh yes, you must read the first ones in the series then because you really get to know more of the Three Pines characters.

    I'll be reading this one in a couple of months for my book group. I just finished A Rule Against Murder and have to say I didn't like it as much but again maybe because its because it wasn't necessarily set in Three Pines. Still a good read and an author I'll follow.

  3. Kay - I know what you mean about having to wait for the next one in a series! Hope you you'll enjoy this one when you get around to it!

    Iliana -- I'm looking forward to reading the first two novels. :) And to the next in the series!

  4. So weird, I am only finding books for a friend of mine to read today :)

  5. I still haven't read this one yet, but I'm glad to know it's as good as the others in the series. I look forward to reading it soon.

  6. Blodeuedd - I've been stuck in the mystery genre for a while. Need to branch out again soon, but I still have several mysteries to get through first.

    Framed - I really liked getting to know the Three Pines characters better!