Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Easter, the time of rebirth, is being celebrated in the small Canadian
village of Three Pines in ways that have become part of village tradition.
There are dinner parties among friends, and the hiding of Easter eggs for
the young to find.
On this Good Friday at the end of April Three Pines smells of fresh earth
and the promise of spring. Clara Morrow is finishing an important painting
and Hazel Smyth is getting ready for the weekend visit of her daughter
Sophie. A witch has come to stay at the B&B and Gabri has invited everyone
to a sťance. And overlooking the village the Hadley house broods.
When Friday night's sťance yields no satisfactory results the witch
suggests a sťance in the Hadley house on Easter Sunday. As the
participants sit in a sacred circle and the witch calls on the house to
yield up its wickedness and hatred, death arrives with a scream.
THE CRUELEST MONTH is the third in Louise Penny's series featuring Chief
Inspector Armande Gamache of the Quebec Surete. In his own words he is a
prideful, stubborn and arrogant man, with enemies among the highest in the
police service. He is known as a whistle blower in a matter that has not
yet run its course, and even in his own team there are spies and traitors.
Gamache's need to help people often borders on the self-destructive and
his inability to abandon a soul in need carries the seeds of his own
When the death at the sťance turns out to be murder Gamache and his team
descend once again on Three Pines, renewing acquaintance and friendship
with the villagers. But even among friends motives for murder exist, and
the investigation is played out against real threats to Gamache's own
career, his family and his very existence.
For her first novel STILL LIFE Louise Penny was the recipient of the CWA
New Blood Dagger, and the CWC Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her
second novel was DEAD COLD aka A FATAL GRACE. Readers new to her novels
would probably do best to read them in order, to allow the characters of
Gamache and his team, and those of the residents in the village of Three
Pines to develop.
THE CRUELEST MONTH has been sitting on my "to be read" pile for some time
now and I regret not tackling it earlier. The Three Pines series are
sometimes labelled cozies, but really there is little that is cozy about
this village except perhaps its name, originally signifying safety to
United Empire Loyalists over 200 years before. Under its calm exterior lie
tensions between strong, even quirky, characters.
Feb 2009 review crossposted on Murder & Mayhem
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