Still life with dead body Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Still Life is the engaging and surprising debut from Canadian writer
Louise Penny. The tale is a murder mystery and set in the eastern part
where the author lives with her painter husband. We feel that her imagined
community of Three Pines is an idealisation of her own village but here
lurks something wicked that we wouldn’t wish on the real Three Pines.
Jane Neals is a tubby middle aged lady who enjoys painting, but will not
let anyone see her work. Finally she submits one piece to the jury of the
local annual art show, which is greeted with great anticipation. However,
when unveiled, the painting turns out to be either a genius of the naïve
style or utter crap. No one is quite sure. A few days later the painter
is found dead and the great inspector Armande Gamache, a literary detective
who may well go down in the annals of mystery writing with Hercule Poirot,
Marple and the rest of them. Now a multitude of possible motives for murder
emerge as we get stuck into a real old whodunit.
Penny’s world and references are undoubtedly modern — the arty
community with the gay restaurateurs who are subject to homophobic harassment
from the local youths, and so on, but the story structure and attention
to character and closed atmosphere all unashamedly belong to the golden
age of mystery writing — Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and so
on. It could all be a bit twee, but of course, murder never is.