Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel


Author: Louise Penny

First Edition: 2005

Original language: English



Elderly resident of Three Pines, Jane Neal, is found dead, shot through the heart with a bow and arrow, early one fall morning.  When it is clear that Jane’s death was no accident, Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate.

Through the course of the investigation, Gamache learns that Jane never let anybody into her house past her kitchen and mudroom, but had finally invited all of her friends to dinner and to see the house shortly before her death.  Additionally, even though nobody had known she was an artist, Jane entered a painting into the local art show.  Even though it looks like a child’s drawing at first glance, the painting seems to hold the answer to who killed Jane.

All kinds of questions surround the unusual murder, and for a while, everyone in the town is a suspect.


“But Clara had her own little secret.  She didn’t really let go of everything,  Most things, yes.  But some she secretly held and hugged and would visit in moments when she needed to be comforted by the unkindness of others.”

“’Oscar Wilde once said that conscience and cowardice are the same thing.  What stops us from doing horrible things isn’t our conscience but the fear of getting caught.’”

“When does a cucumber become a pickle?”


I liked this book but somehow didn’t really get into it.  I don’t know what it was, but the story did not grab me.  I guess partly had to do with the characters.  For some reason, I really didn’t like Clara at all.  She struck me as lazy and selfish and self- involved… She wasn’t really a likeable character.  I liked Gamache, but he was also pretty flat.  You learn a few things about him, but there is really no tension in any of the characters.  I thought agent Nichol was an interesting choice.  She was by far the most complex character, but again, not likeable and not relatable.  I liked Gabri and Oliver, but mostly for the comic relief; she could have done a lot more with those two- the same can be said for Ruth and Myrna…  I may read the second book in the series, but not right away.