Canada · review

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

brutal tellingI didn’t love this 5th installment in the Three Pines/ Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. It’s a story about a murder where the suspect is one of the village residents and he or she remains so. There is a bit of an open ending (appealing a conviction or sentence), but that’s not a real surprise to me.

This book felt longer than the other installments. Certain things started annoying me. 1. Penny uses a lot of sentence fragments. A lot; 2. The artists that populate the slightly mythical village of Three Pines and its environs are almost all genius level artists. And Gamache is a genius level detective, which would be okay if the narrator or various characters didn’t continually remind us of the fact. It’s okay to make Three Pines a less-than-realistic place (it has an awfully high body count, for one thing) populated with regular folks or regular artists; 3. The puzzle element of the mystery felt off to me. I’m not usually into puzzles: it’s just not something I’ve ever read a lot of. Was it an homage to some other book or to some other device that I just missed?

Ultimately what it came down to is that this book wasn’t as pacy or twisty as I tend to like the most, and the fact that I’m well into the series made it feel a little stale to me. That’s not to say I totally didn’t enjoy it, but I felt myself prickling about certain things that I usually don’t mind.

Source: I bought my copy of the book.

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8 thoughts on “The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

  1. It’s interesting, isn’t it, Rebecca, how even in a series we like, one or another entry might not exactly sweep us away. I’ve had that happen, too. I have to admit I’m a big fan of this series, so I forgive Penny things I wouldn’t normally forgive from other authors.

      1. I have read the first three in this series, thus have one more before I get to this one. I haven’t had a lot of success with this series. I did not like the first one, especially. I did like the 2nd one much better. And the third one I liked the 2nd half, but not the first half. But I haven’t given up on them yet. So many readers and reviewers do like them a lot.

  2. I didn’t love this 5th installment in the Three Pines/ Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.

    Aaargh! I haven’t read anything by Penny yet but, because of all the rave reviews of her work, bought this one a while ago and have had it sitting on my nightstand ever since. Hm: it’s a big chunk of book, and if you and now Tracy have your doubts . . .

    1. I don’t like lots of books on the cozy side so I may not be the best judge. I’m so behind in the series that I don’t know which ones stand out for her biggest fans, you know.

      1. I don’t like lots of books on the cozy side

        Oh! I’d assumed from the book’s title — The Brootle Telling — that this was going to be a hardboiled exercise, and it’s easy enough to read the blurb that way. Your explanation has made me a bit more likely to read the book. I’m no great cozy fan either, but sometimes it’s just what’s needed.

  3. Tracy: I know, her books keep on winning awards, and I know lots of people who are huge fans. I really liked the first but have only sort of liked the rest, and I think it ultimately comes down to my preference for thrillers (which can also be unrealistic like Three Pines, but I’m more entertained along the way or something).

  4. I both enjoyed and was frustrated by The Brutal Telling. I enjoyed the character development of the village residents and Gamache’s probing of their lives. At the same time, having lived my life in rural Canada, I could not accept an unknown hermit living only a short walk from the village.

    I do not worry about body counts in villages or we would never have series set outside big cities. I approach each book in a rural series as a new murder.

    It is best to read Bury Your Dead, the next in the series, to really understand this book. Bury Your Dead was my top fiction read for 2011.

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