Book Review: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

The Cruellest Month is set in April so it is quite a coincidence that I read it this month. Louise Penny was recommended to me by friend and fellow blogger Sadje I am a great fan of Cosy Mysteries of the Agatha Christie kind and Sadje promised that Louise Penny would be similar.

The setting of this book is the tiny village of Three Pines in Quebec. The characters are well drawn, much like in Miss Marple’s village St. Mary Mead. There are a few modern twists such as the gay couple owning the village Inn.

The action begins at this inn/bistro where locals and a ‘psychic’ are gathered for a seance. Another seance is suggested to be held at a deserted/haunted house.

During the second seance, a woman screams and supposedly dies of shock and fear. The autopsy on Madeliene , the dead woman, reveals poisoning by Ephedra. The ‘poison’ is a substance found in a plant that is used in slimming pills.

Inspector Gamache and his team are assigned to the investigation. There follows a thorough examination of those present at the seance for motive and opportunity. The murdered woman’s background provides interesting leads.

A parallel thread that runs through the investigation is the backstory of Inspecor Gamache. Having uncovered corruption in his own department , Gamache is embroiled in a secret vendetta against him. His family becomes the target of a smear campaign. Undeterred, the Inspector and his assistants solve the crime and find the culprit.

I began reading this book with high expectations. The small town setting seemed comparable to my favourite cosy mysteries. The investigation was well researched and plausible. Yet more than two thirds of the way into the Story my interest tapered down . The end seemed to drag leaving me disappointed. Maybe I had anticipated too much.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

  1. I’m sorry the book didn’t live up too your expectations. It happens when too much hype is created before we even start the book. I’m afraid I was the guilty party here

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are 20 books (so far) in the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny and you should really start at the beginning. The character Ruth Zardo is worth the price of admission tho if you are a bit delicate about ‘language’ you might find her offensive LOL I’ve been a huge fan since the beginning but I have to be honest the last 4 books were a little tiresome because they are all about conspiracies and politics – not my bag. I would never characterize the Gamache series as ‘cozy mystery’ – not at all. If that’s what you were expecting then there is where your disappointment lay. But – definitely should be read in order – otherwise a lot of stuff won’t make sense or have meaning. Nor will you get invested in the characters, and the characters are worth spending time with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure you are right.
      My problem was that the other titles are not available in my part of the world.
      I came upon this one just by chance.
      If I find the others I will read them in order.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person


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