The next morning, the old man is found dead on the floor at Olivier’s bistro, the favorite gathering spot for Three Pines’ residents, and it appears that only a small circle of these residents can be suspects, including, of course, Olivier. Adding to the mystery, nobody in Three Pines knows who the old man is.
Armand Gamache and his team arrive from Montreal to investigate and once again become a part of village life. They are brought up to date with all the latest in the lives of artists Clare and Peter Murray, bookshop owner Myrna, curmudgeon poet Ruth Zardo and Olivier and his life partner, Gabri. They learn that the old Hadley House, scene of some dreadful events in prior books, has been purchased at long last and is being renovated from top to bottom by newcomers Marc and Dominique Gilbert. This is not good news, though, because the Gilberts propose to open an inn and spa, which will compete with Olivier and Gabri’s bistro and B&B. Bad blood has arisen between the Gilberts and Olivier and Gabri, which figures into the murder investigation.
THE BRUTAL TELLING is filled with poetry, art, craft, architecture and design, and music. Not to mention food, wine, nature and animals. These elements in Penny’s novels help her create a whole world that you enter while you are reading and don’t want to leave.
Though Penny’s setting is idyllic and some of her characters may seem to be on the precious side of idiosyncratic, Penny does not shy away from presenting the dark side of people, including her regular characters. Peter Murray nurtures a gnawing jealousy of Clare’s artistic talent and is far from happy that she may be about to achieve more recognition than he. Olivier hides secrets about himself from everyone, even his family and lover.
As with all of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, it is secrets and long-festering emotions that propel the plot. None of the murder suspects is a stranger in town, and Gamache knows that when the murderer is found, he will not be a stranger to the victim. The murder, no matter how shocking and tragic, is an all-too-human occurrence.