The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

This is the first book by Louise Penny which I’ve read and she was recommended by Joan Kyler who has a good idea of what I like, and I did enjoy this one. I tend to stick to vintage crime and there’s so much of it to read, but recently I’ve been thinking that I should read some contemporary stuff and this fitted the bill. I’m probably the last person in the western world to find out about this Canadian writer. I just wish I had waited and started reading them in order instead of grabbing the first one I saw.

Set in Quebec in the village of Three Pines, the sort of place where people still roll eggs at Easter and the hub of the village is Olivier’s Bistro where people gathered for the company and gossip as much as for the coffee and food.

But there’s an evil doom looming over Three Pines in the shape of a murder house, a dark presence on the hill above the village. In fact nothing about the village and its inhabitants is as it seems to be on the surface.

Gabri who runs the B&B likes to get his money’s worth out of his guests and they often end up being unwilling entertainers for the villagers. His new guest Jeanne has been lined up as a psychic and unknown to her she is expected to perform!

Things get completely out of control and C.I. Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is called in to investigate.

I’ll definitely have to track down the two books which come before this one so that I can see the development of the village’s characters and get to know them better. There is one character who is portrayed as being a bit weird, or certainly unusual as he has such an affinity with trees that he can hear their cries of pain if they are being abused. I completely understand that, maybe I’m weird too!

12 thoughts on “The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

  1. Great review, Katrina. I have read the first two books. I did not get excited about the first one, but really liked the 2nd one. And hope to read this one soon. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I hope you can find them! The people at my local independent mystery book store have been recommending Louise Penny for years with real fervor and excitement, and once I read the first one I understood why! She just has a new book out, but I haven’t yet read the previous one – I need to catch up.

    • Lisa,
      I have to rewind to the first ones, and I’m supposed to be concentrating on the books I already have at home, and not going to the library – I don’t think I can manage to stay away from it for long.

  3. I have a friend who has been urging me to read this series for years. I tried the first one and couldn’t finish – it just didn’t fit my mood. Also, I don’t like books in a series so I think I have avoided getting hooked. It does sound wonderful, though.

    • Anbolyn,
      Books have to fit my mood too, but I enjoy a series, although sometimes I find myself way behind with them, the authors just write them too fast!

  4. I’m so glad you liked this one, Katrina. Like Tracy, I read the first book, Still Life, at a friend’s recommendation. It was okay. But something about it stayed with me because I went on to read the others in the series, not always in order. It does help you to understand the character development and some of the plot lines if you do.

    The Cruelest Month was the only one I hadn’t been able to find, so when I finally saw it for Kindle, I downloaded it and read it just a few weeks ago. Now the only one I haven’t read is the latest, How the Light Gets In, which I also have on my Kindle. I love her characters and think she’s an excellent writer.

    • Joan,
      I agree, I really like her characters too and for me that’s important because I don’t want to spend my time with people I don’t like. I think I’ll have to request the earlier books from my library – that place I’m supposed to be avoiding until I make a bigger dent in my own book pile!

  5. Back from NYC and had to leave my latest Louise Penny because it was a hardback and too big to carry. Ok you “Kindlers” you could have carried yours, but now I’m home and back to my book. Naughty Katrina for not starting at the beginning. These are characters that really grow on you. Makes me want to go back to Canada, especially Montreal.

    • Lorraine,
      Oh I know – just skelp my legs for not starting with book one, I was just too impatient! The whole idea of Quebec has always seemed strange to me, but I suppose they’re happy being different.

      • This is for Joan too. Just finished “How the Light Gets In”, Penny’s latest. It was a good book but it really helped knowing the background of the last few books.

        • Lorraine,
          I took The Cruellest Month back to the library yesterday but stopped myself from borrowing any more of her books because I want to read the earlier ones first. I think I’ll have to request them.

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