Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Louise Penny is one of my favourite mystery authors and Still Life is her first published book in her award-winning Armand Gamache series of murder mysteries. 

 Photo by Leanne 
 creative assistance provided by my friend David

I was excited to find this copy in my favourite consignment store. 

Publisher:  First published in paperback in 2006 by Headline Publishing Group

Book blurb:  
As the early morning mist clears on Thanksgiving Sunday, the homes of Three Pines come to life -- all except one...
To locals, the village is a safe haven. So they are bewildered when a well-loved member of the community is found dead in the maple woods. Surely it was an accident -- a hunter's arrow gone astray. Who could want Jane Neal dead?
In a long and distinguished career with the Surete du Quebec, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has learned to look for snakes in Eden. Gamache knows something dark is lurking behind the white picket fences, and if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will being to give up its secrets...

What did Ms. Penny have to learn and what came naturally to her?

What did Ms. Penny have to learn?


Dialogue tags...
For example, I found identifying the speaker in group difficult. This difficulty may be overcome by using more dialogue tags or by associating the speaker with an action. 

I.e. Simon reached for the steaming cup of coffee. "Boy, is it cold outside." 

And transitions could be more clearly defined. One minute the characters are in a shop or a restaurant and the next the characters are in a car. 

What do I like about Ms. Penny's writing?

One of the reasons Louise Penny is one of my favourite mystery authors is that we share the same passion for rural life.
The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time. (p. 5)
Life was far from harried here. But neither was it still. (p. 402)
Thought provoking...
"[F]our things lead to wisdom... I don't know. I need help. I'm sorry." (p. 106)
"I know at the end of a day I'll look at my work and think it's great, then next morning look at it and think it's crap. The work didn't change, but I did." (p. 353 - 354) 
After her murder Jane's friends find her art. This has convinced me that before I die I will set fire to all my unpublished work--I want to spare my loved ones that unpleasant discovery.

Turn of phrase...
She threw great logs of 'I'm right, you're an unfeeling bastard' on to the fire and felt secure and comforted. (p. 214)
Ruth's normally flinty voice was now as hard as the Canadian shield. (p. 220 - 221)

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Sharing my author journey...

September was a productive month I...

sent 15 picture book manuscripts to publishers
sent 1 short story collection to a publisher
1 of my short stories was published in anthology (more about that soon)

In October, I hope to...
complete another short story collection (for a total of three)
continue to send my picture book manuscripts to publishers