Post details: Louise Penny

04/06/07

Permalink 04:41:54 pm, Categories: Review, Books, 341 words   English (UK)

Louise Penny

There's not enough english language crime fiction featuring French detectives.

The French have a different approach to crime, their entire legal system operates in a way quite different to our own, and though you might not expect it, the difference shows through in the way that crimes are investigated. To be completely honest, Maigret by Georges Simenon is most likely the only French crime fiction that most people are aware of.

Louise Penny's work is set in Quebec a perfect excuse to reveal the Sureté in action within a english speaking world. And it's refreshing to see. Of course Quebec is bilingual but the French that creeps into the work is neither intrusive nor difficult and lends a authentic sound to the proceedings.

Her debut novel, 'Still Life' is extremely well executed. It has a confidence about it that belies the fact that it has a so far shallow background. Many debut's - especially those that introduce us to characters who will re-occur - are noticeably tentative when compared to the works that come later, but with this novel, you could be forgiven for going back to the bookshop to look for earlier works featuring the redoubtable Inspector Gamache.

Penny has created an entire microcosmos here, in one fell swoop. Not just the brilliant and caring Armand Gamache, but a beautiful setting - the village of Three Pines - filled with well fleshed out characters and in an audacious stroke, the monstrous Yvette Nichol.

The follow-up to 'Still Life' is 'Dead Cold' and brings Gamache back to the same village of Three Pines, little more than 1 year after the events of the first novel. Here Penny shows that she can keep up the pace, her richly drawn story brings out ever more detail in the characters and location. This book is everything that the first was, yet slightly more-so.

Three Pines is a glorious setting for a fresh approach to the village murder mystery, and I look forward to the third in the series, 'The Cruellest Month' when it hits the shelves this autumn.

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