Tragedy strikes Three Pines, an elderly village hidden away in Quebec. Delightful seventy six year old former teacher Jane Neal is found dead, slain by an arrow. A hunting accident or something more sinister? The timing is curious, between two unprecedented events. Just submitted by Jane to an art exhibition has been an extraordinary painting that stunned the judges. Friends have also been amazed by an invitation to her living room, yet to be seen by anyone - for decades a mystery.
Although Jane perishes at the book's start, she dominates all that follows - her artwork the key to everything. Chief Inspector Gamache investigates - soon to be charmed by the village and its quirky inhabitants.
A first novel? This surprises, Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir so firmly portrayed they seem well established characters from a long running series - especially with so many references to previous cases. In fact, everybody here is vividly depicted - many most likeable, some decidedly not. Gamache himself proceeds with insight and compassion (unlike the team's newest recruit Agent Yvette Nichol). The occasional humour enhances - as with Nichol so perplexed by that mirror sticker, "You're looking at the problem."
Like Gamache, many readers may be captivated by Three Pines full of friends so loyal - moved and enchanted by the way Jane has ensured she will always be around.
A truly satisfying read.