Book Review – The Cruelest Month

The Cruelest Month book cover.

The third book in the Three Pines/Inspector Gamache series takes us back to the village of Three Pines where we visit again with main cast from the first two books.

It’s Easter and to shake things up a bit, a our beloved group of locals decide to have a séance up at the old Hadley house. This was meant to be a cathartic adventure, much like going to see a scary movie. However, things take a dark turn when one of them dies of fright.

Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to investigate. And like with the previous books, we’re pulled along as he interviews the quirky townsfolk, each with their own secrets.

I’ve heard these books referred to as a cozy mystery due it’s less graphic nature, but don’t let that fool you. This is not Murder She Wrote.

For starters, the lyrical way Louise Penny writes elevates the book into one that can be enjoyed even without a murder mystery. Her descriptions of the village, people, and food make you feel like you are sitting at the table. There’s realness and depth to her characters that made me want to read on just to learn more about each of them.

Second, each character is an individual. This includes both the victim and the murderer. We spend a lot of time getting to know them and their motivations. There are no mustache twirling villains. (Well one character starts to go in that territory, but that was a minor part so I’ll let it go.)

Each book has gotten better. I’ve already purchased the fourth book. I’m looking forward to listening to it, especially since some of the dirty cop thread was wrapped up.

If you watched the show, it’s worthwhile to give the books a chance. The tone is about the same, but there’s enough difference, especially with the extra time spent getting to know the characters, that it would add to the story.

It’s only January, but I predict The Cruelest Month will go down as one of my favorite for the year.

May I also suggest listening to the audio version. The narrator is excellent.

Have you read any of this series? What are your thoughts?

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