Published: September 22, 2009
Chaos is coming, old son.
With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.
No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?
As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.
The plot is a complex blend of mystery, history, greed, art, and lies, yet even with all its complexity, its never overly complicated. It’s quite cleverly constructed, and though some reviewers compare Penny to Agatha Christie, with all due respect to Ms. Christie, and I do love her books, Penny’s books reach further than Christie’s. Penny’s books explore so much more than just the solving of a murder. The Brutal Telling, especially, explores the broader themes that give rise to a violent and desperate act like murder.
I wondered how long it would take the author, Louise Penny, to have a villager from Three Pines, accused and convicted of a murder and that’s exactly what she did in The Brutal Telling.
We discover that one of the owners and caretakers of the Bistro and Bed and Breakfast is not as good a person from what shows on the outside. He has been greedy most of his life and has lied to everyone, even his partner.
We never find out the name of the hermit or how he came to be in the cabin full of treasures in the woods, or where the treasures came from. There are too many unanswered questions. I believe the author will tell us in another installment of this series the answers t those and other questions, like-did Chief Inspector Armand Gamache put the right man behind bars. I think not.
Five stars *****