The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

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.
Review –
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 *****
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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: May 1, 2007

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with power, ingenuity, and charm.

Review- 

 I stumbled upon this series one day when the most recent book was offered as a choice of the day on one site that I follow. It sounded like something I’d like but I thought maybe I should start at the beginning of the series so I did.

The village of Three Pines  in Quebec is the  quaint picturesque  home to people who have been there for generators as well as newcomers. There is a Commons area, a small business district and shop keepers, bakers,bistro owners and a B&B that serves brunch.

Jane Neal was an elderly retired school teacher who hadn’t an enemy in the world, or so everyone in the village thought. She was a warm generous person who also liked to paint (like an artist) but had never shown anyone her work until one day when she decided to enter one painting into a competition. At first everyone thought is was horrible and childish but the more they  studied it the more they came to like it.  Any way long story short, it’s because of this painting that she is killed, although we don’t know that at first.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is in his mid 50’s. Married to Reine-Marie Gamache. They have a daughter named Annie and a son named Daniel. He is  called in from Montreal and with help from the towns people the mystery is solved. He has a reputation for being kind and always doing the right thing and it’s that very fact that hurt his career the most. We don’t know the whole story but we know that he will go no higher in rank because of a past case. His co-workers, for the most part, idolize him.

I truly loved this story and it’s characters and I was blessed to have the audio version so I didn’t have to stumble across all the French names. The narrator does a fantastic job and I can’t wait to chase down the next book in the series.

If you can’t find an audio version and read a print or e-book form, there is a pronunciation guide that can be found at http://www.louisepenny.com/

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Murderous Muffins (Chubby Chicks Club #2) by Lois Lavrisa

Book Description

October 11, 2014
Bezu is a beautiful southern belle with genteel manners. But her problems are anything but. Deep in debt, she’s illegally taken in a few lodgers. A sweet stripper and her bodybuilder boyfriend, an Asian man loudly learning English through pop music, and a mysterious stranger with the most amazing blue-green eyes — and a secret. When one of them mysteriously dies and it looks like her muffins were the murder weapon, Bezu and her fellow Chubby Chicks Club member, Cat, must discover who the killer is before she ends up in jail…or worse. Will they succeed? Find out in Murderous Muffins, book two in the Chubby Chicks Club cozy mystery series.
Review –
This was a nice cozy mystery that made for  pleasant read to cleanse the mind, but I probably will not read any more of this series. If this one hadn’t been offered FREE I wouldn’t have chosen it to read.
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The Blood Of An Englishman (Agatha Raisin Mystery #25) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description

September 16, 2014

“Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman…”

Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of “Babes in the Woods,” Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens and the Ogre disappears in an impressive puff of smoke. Only he doesn’t re-appear at final curtain. Agatha’s agency finds baker’s wife, gorgeous Gwen, was beaten and has affairs, no grieving widow. Case is solved with old pals – Sir Charles, James Lacey, cop Bill Wong.
Surely this isn’t the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show–and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.The Blood of an Englishman is Agatha’s 25th adventure, and you’d think she would have learned by now not to keep making the same mistakes. Alas, no–yet Agatha’s flaws only make her more endearing. In this sparkling new entry in M. C. Beaton’s New York Times bestselling series of modern cozies, Agatha Raisin once again “manages to infuriate, amuse, and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery” (Bookreporter.com).

Review –

Agatha Raisin is one of my favorite book characters and in this book she seems to have herself more pulled together(and it’s about time). Even though she’s still man-crazy she didn’t go overboard and make a fool of herself like she usually does.

The plot was good and had some twists.

A very good read and I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

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Mayhem in Christmas River(Christmas River Cozy Mysteries #2)by Meg Muldoon

Book Description

May 6, 2013
It’s July in Christmas River, and the temperature isn’t the only thing flaring out of control.
After a fire destroys her best friend’s ornament shop, pie baker extraordinaire Cinnamon Peters soon discovers that the blaze was no accident.
Just days before the annual Christmas River in July Parade and Play, it becomes clear that a maniac is roaming the tourist-packed streets of Christmas River.
And he’s got a flair for the dramatic.
Will Cinnamon and her sheriff’s deputy boyfriend find out who’s behind the blaze before the rest of the town goes up in flames?
Mayhem abounds in this smoldering sequel to Murder in Christmas River.

Review –
Not great literature, but it’s a COZY mystery, after all, and with that in mind, it’s pretty good. (I’m sure this is punctuated wrong, but…)
It was a fast easy  read and made a cold evening go by with pleasure.
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Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well (Aunt Dimity Series #19) by Nancy Atherton

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2014

When a strapping young Australian named Jack MacBride arrives in Finch to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, heads turn in the sleepy English village. But when Lori volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more shocking than a stranger turning up in Finch.

After Lori laughingly tosses a coin into the garden’s old well and makes a wish, she is baffled to find that the wish seems to have come true. Word spreads, and the villagers turn out in droves to make wishes of their own. But as they soon learn, one person’s wish is another person’s worst nightmare and the village is thrown into chaos.

As more and more wishes come true, Lori resolves to find out what’s really going on. Is handsome Jack somehow tricking his neighbors? Or are they fooling themselves? With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help, Lori discovers that the truth is even more marvelous than a magical wishing well.

Review –

This installment of the Aunt Dimity Mystery Series was much better than the last one I read.  It’s the perfect scenario for the old saying of  “if something looks too good to be true-it usually is”. Loved it.

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Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince (Aunt Dimity Series #18) by Nancy Atherton

Book Description:

Published: April 18, 2013

When a finely wrought silver sleigh figurine turns up in her thrift shop, Lori Shepherd recognizes it instantly.  It was the object that mesmerized the sweet but very poor nine-year-old Daisy Pickering at Sproggton Manor, the bizarre Jacobean house-turned-museum Lori recently visited with her twin sons.

Hoping to avoid any real commotion, Lori decides to speak with the museum curator, who turns out to be oddly uninterested in the theft. But there’s not much that could be done anyway for the Pickerings seem to have come into some money and moved to Australia.

With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly guidance, Lori’s search for the sleigh’s true owner leads her to a tangled web of secrets stretching from the finest English country estates back to the blood-drenched soil of the Russian Revolution.

Review –

I love this series but didn’t find this book as interesting and attention grabbing as some of the others. It is still worth reading because of the chemistry of all the characters involved.

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Death By Chocolate (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries #6)by Abigail Keam

Book Description

 December 14, 2013
Josiah Reynolds is tracking down the disappearance of an old friend’s son. But while she is chasing a missing person, O’nan is hot on Josiah’s trail chasing her. And he is threatening, conniving and blackmailing others to help destroy the woman he thinks ruined his life. Will he finally succeed? Or will Josiah outwit him as she has always done? One thing is for sure . . . when Josiah and O’nan finally clash at the Cumberland Falls, justice will be done. The question is who will survive the thundering and treacherous waters of the Cumberland Falls? But one thing is sure – someone is going to die!
Review –
These books keep getting better and better. You really need to try this series, it’s a perfect read for a hot summer day.
*The next book is due out sometimes this summer and will be call DEATH BY HAUNTING.
Can’t wait.
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Death By Lotto (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries #5) by Abigail Keam

Product Description

Published: March 1, 2013

Ethel Bradley thinks someone is trying to kill her, but doesn’t17380768
know who or why. She enlists the help of her childhood friend,
Lady Elsmere, but Lady Elsmere has troubles of her own in
the form of a ne’er-do-well English nephew who’s trying to steal
her estate. Both women turn to Josiah Reynolds, who has just
returned from New York.
Josiah calls Detective Goetz who recommends a shamus named
Walter Neff. Walter and Josiah scour the Bluegrass for answers
that turn out to be deadly. To make matters worse for Josiah,
Fred O’nan is a free man and gunning for her.
Josiah, full of sass and vinegar, meets these challenges head on
with the support of her friends, Franklin and Matt. Will Josiah be
thwarted this time?
Kentucky can be a cruel mistress to the those wanting
justice and exacts a high price for it. Sometimes the “dark and
bloody ground” demands double indemnity.
This is something Josiah knows very well. Very well indeed.

Review –

I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie DOUBLE INDEMNITY, but there is 

a character named WALTER NEFF, who was an insurance salesman and falls head over heels for 

BARBARA STANWYKE’S character. The author used the NEFF name and made the character 

shamus(PI). So much fun. 

Josiah has her hands full in this installment as the man who threw her over a cliff is a free man and is coming after her again. Poor Josiah, will she ever find happiness?  Keep reading this series and find out.

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Death By Bourbon (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries #4) by Abigail Keam

Product Description

Published: October 1, 2012

Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah shen she witnessess a death at an engagment party for guess who . . . Matt. Matt? Yes Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon. That would be upsetting enough, but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will
believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer. The three of them conspire to bring the murderer to justice. It turns out that the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa, decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different tune. Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone. Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.

Review –

Josiah is still healing and many traumatic things happen, the least of which is another possible murder.  Other things on her mind are that her daughter has decided to move to London, Jake, her care giver has decided to go back to his sick wife, and Matt, her gay friend is engaged to be married. Poor Josiah.

Another great installment of the Josiah Reynolds Mysteries.

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