Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pg. 99: Louise Penny's "The Cruelest Month"

The latest feature at the Page 99 Test: Louise Penny's The Cruelest Month.

About the book, from the author's website:
Easter in Three Pines is a time of church services, egg hunts and seances to raise the dead.

A group of friends trudges up to the Old Hadley House, the horror on the hill, to finally rid it of the evil spirits that have so obviously plagued it, and the village, for decades. But instead of freeing a spirit, they create a new one. One of their numbers dies of fright. Or was it murder? Enter Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team from the Surete du Quebec. As they peel back the layers of flilth and artiface that have covered the haunted old home, they discover the evil isn't confined there. Some evil is guiding the actions of one of the seemingly kindly villagers.

But Gamache has a horror all his own to confront. A very personal demon is about to strike.

Easter in Three Pines. A time of rebirth, when nature comes alive. But something very unpleasant has also come alive. And it become clear - for there to be a rebirth, there first must be a death.
Among the acclaim for The Cruelest Month:
"If I thought for one minute this place really existed, I would be packing the car. As it was, on finishing "The Cruelest Month," I grabbed the first two books, "Still Life" and "A Fatal Grace," and spent a lovely weekend in the village. The mouthwatering food, the beautiful gardens, the quirky and literate villagers -- Three Pines is a charming oasis for the's more about the journey than the destination in these wonderful books full of poetry, and weather, and a brooding manor house, and people who read and think and laugh and eat a lot of really excellent food.
Move over, Mitford."
--Salem Macknee, Charlotte Observor

“Many mystery buffs have credited Louise Penny with the revival of the type of traditional murder mystery made famous by Agatha Christie.... The book’s title is a metaphor not only for the month of April but also for Gamache’s personal and professional challenges--making this the series standout so far.”
--Sarah Weinman

"Chief Insp. Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Québec village of Three Pines in Penny's expertly plotted third cozy (after 2007's A Fatal Grace). As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a séance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Sûreté du Québec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name. Arthur Ellis Award–winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Gamache is a prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives.”
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Gamache is an engaging, modern-day Poirot who gently teases out information from his suspects while enjoying marvelous bistro meals and cozy walks on the village common…Penny is an award-winning writer whose cozies go beyond traditional boundaries, providing entertaining characters, a picturesque locale, and thought-provoking plots. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal (starred review)
Read an excerpt from The Cruelest Month, and learn more about the book and its author at Louise Penny's website and her blog.

Penny's first Three Pines mystery, Still Life, won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada and the New Blood Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association. In the United States, it received the Dilys Award for the book that the members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association most enjoyed selling over the past year.

The Page 69 Test: Still Life.

My Book, The Movie: A Fatal Grace.

The Page 99 Test: The Cruelest Month.

--Marshal Zeringue