Tuesday, December 29, 2009

THE BRUTAL TELLING by Louise Penny (2009)

It's the end of summer in Three Pines and good things are happening for some of the locals: Ruth has adopted a duck named Rosa who follows her around like a lost lamb; the Bistro is brimming with business over the Labour Day weekend as visitors stretch out the last long weekend; and Clara Morrow has an upcoming show of her paintings at the Fortin Gallery in Montreal, a vernissage that promises to provide connections to some of the most influential people in the art world including a curator from the MoMA in NYC.

Even though the old Hadley House has been sold and gutted to become a posh inn and spa, it has been tainted again, by the corpse of a stranger and by the living breathing presence of a man who is a stranger to his son, but a "saint" to the wider world.

When "the Hermit's" bludgeoned body shows up on the floor of Olivier's Bistro, Inspector Gamache and his crew from the Surete are called in from Montreal to reveal not only the killer but also some ugly truths about greed.

In addition to purposeful plot twists and being welcomed into the homes and hearts of Three Pines locals like the Morrows, Myrna, Ruth, Olivier and Gabri, the inclusion of a subplot involving a first edition of Jane Eyre, the china of Catherine the Great and the work of Emily Carr kept me flipping pages through the night so I gulped the book in one sitting from start to finish.

The Brutal Telling is Globe and Mail crime fiction editor Margaret Canon's favorite pick for 2009 and I can see why. Pass the word about Louise Penny. She deserves to be read widely and with enthusiasm.

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