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Still Life

Chief Inspector Gamache Book 1
Narrated by: Adam Sims
Series: Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
4 out of 5 stars (214 ratings)

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Summary

The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines - a place so free from crime it doesn't even have its own police force. But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets....

Coming soon: Book 2 in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Dead Cold. Winter in Three Pines, and the sleepy village is carpeted in snow. It's a time of peace and goodwill - until a scream pierces the biting air. A spectator at the annual Boxing Day curling match has been fatally electrocuted. Despite the large crowd, there are no witnesses and - apparently - no clues.

©2005 Louise Penny (P)2006 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story spoiled by the narrator

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

This is the first in a wonderful series of books which I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone. The village of Three Pines is a character in itself, the villagers who live there are 3 dimensional, engaging and flawed - being believably human. Despite the village setting, however, this is not a 'cosy' crime series. It is much darker and more profound than that.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Obviously Gamache, so fascinating! Ruth Zardo is also compelling. What I love about the characters is their wholeness - no-one is completely good or nice, no-one is completely awful or spiteful. Penny's characters are fully grown, complex adults and during the course of the series one becomes very attached to them.

What didn’t you like about Adam Sims’s performance?

Sadly, Adam Sims does not appear to have read the books before narrating them and therefore has no understanding of the characters. He makes the most basic mistake in giving Inspector Gamache a French accent for the first couple of chapters, then as he reads another character describing Gamache's British accent he changes it accordingly. This only lasts for a couple of chapters, however, before he's back to a French accent again. Most disappointing. His lack of knowledge of the characters really spoils things for me, rather than portray any complexity he makes most of them sound merely bad tempered.

Did Still Life inspire you to do anything?

I was inspired to read the rest of the series!

Any additional comments?

For £15 I expect a professional recording wherein mistakes are rectified rather than just ignored. When the book clearly describes the main character's British accent and the reader has given him a French accent surely someone in the recording studio could say "Oops, better do the first two chapters again."?

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable

Would you listen to Still Life again? Why?

Yes. I like the setting, characters & philosophical musings.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The investigator in this series isn't a troubled man. He loves his wife and his colleagues and doesn't have too many issues with authority. Canada is beautifully evoked through landscape & characters. These are gentle, thoughtful books.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Keep with it - it's worth it!

I had to start this book 3 times as at first I just couldn't get into it. On one final try before I asked for a refund I understood the good reviews that I'd read. The characters really do have character, the story had enough twists and turns to keep me interested a and the narrator was really good. Will now be moving on to the second bookin the series.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Delightful

A sneaky peek into the life of French Canadians and the English who live in Québec. A who dunnit with a difference, a Chief Inspector with a difference and an insight into people that was surprising and welcome. I look forward to listening to the series as read by Adam Sims , who is a talented voice actor.

4 people found this helpful

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  • L
  • 28-05-15

Good story

I really enjoyed this book. The story is fun, the characters are quirky and the Inspector kind of reminded me of a Canadian Poirot. The narrator did a fantastic job and really bought the story and characters alive. Worth a listen.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brigadoon with Dead Bodies

Any additional comments?

Perhaps the best way to indicate what I thought of this book is to say that immediately after I finished it, I ordered the next book in the series.In some ways it's old fashioned: set in an Elysian village, the contemporary Canadian equivalent of St Mary Mead, so beloved of Miss Marple fans. When we were children, perhaps we yearned for ponies, or to be prima ballerinas or cowboys or astronauts: as adults, we long to live in villages like Three Pines, where bistro owners leap from their beds at dawn to dart from their kitchens and proffer freshly-baked croissants and flasks of cafe au lait; where there are archery clubs, and where famous artists and poets live; where people recite Auden at the dinner table and no-one thinks it odd; where you have to google a word before you realize that someone was swearing. The mist clears every hundred years or so, and there is Three Pines.In other respects, it's most definitely of our era. In its analysis of what moves people to act as they do in particular, it reflects contemporary psychology. Why do teenagers sometimes act like cave trolls, brutalizing the people who treat them most kindly and with the most tolerance? Why do some people gracefully accept the most appalling affronts whilst others seem unable to forgive the smallest rebuff? Even the use of the word "girl" as opposed to "woman" was subjected at one point to a surprisingly subtle analysis, which I'm still a little unsure about. Not many crime thrillers have the ability to drop passages into your head and leave them there to hatch/fester.Most importantly, it's a good yarn. After you've been led up plausible dead ends a couple of times, you realize that the author is an expert in laying a false trail and you settle back to enjoy the story.As other reviewers have commented, the narrator switches accents for the main character with hilarious results. At some points he is as English as Lord Peter Wimsey: at others, though I'm not entirely sure how a French Canadian accent differs from a French accent, he can definitely no longer be pictured in tweeds striding across a grouse moor. Once I had got used to this odd phenomenon, it became truly funny, and I found myself laughing out loud every time it happened. At first though, I was baffled, wondering if a) there were two different policemen or b) the one police officer adopted different accents according to whom he was with. A lot of us do that, don't we?

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Adam Sims is a joy to listen to.

This is the second Louise Penny novel I've listened to and I have loved both of them. Adam Sims brings the characters to life and is a fabulously talented narrator.

Other people have commented on Sims switching between French Canadian and British accents when he is narrating for Inspector Gamache. THIS IS NOT A FLAW OF THE NARRATOR. If you read (or listened) closely, Inspector Gamache learned to speak English in England and therefore, when he speaks to English speaking characters in "English" he does so with a British accent. When he is speaking to French characters and therefore speaking "French" he is speaking with a French-Canadian accent.
I loved this aspect of the novel. It's a stroke of brilliance. Thank you Louise Penny for bringing such depth to your characters. Thank you to Adam Sims for bringing them to life.

This book and the rest of Louise Penny's books should go straight on your wish list.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Gamache has potential, but a narrator with more to offer would improve things.

A good story which doesn't overvalue it's central detective figure, but at the same time doesn't quite make the best of him either. Gamache runs a team, he isn't a Sherlock Holmes figure. An apprentice-type falls out with Gamache, again showing him as not perfect as well as patient. He has potential for Penny to develop (whether she has or nay, I don't know as I've not read/heard any).
Sadly, I'm not sure that I like Adam Sims's voice; you might. To me he sounds a bit strangulated, tending to make some characters sound rather tetchy or bad-natured. I can say that I did get used to his tones and was able to get past actually disliking them.
If this was Penny's first novel or her first with these detectives, then she managed quite well; if she is already established in other ways then she should have done better, I feel. The story itself has good characters amongst the suspects/townsfolk, who were perhaps more rounded than the investigators. I'd listen to another of her novels to see what she has done with the detectives, but I'd be hoping that someone other than Adam Sims reads it, to suit my tastes.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Awwwe I really loved this one!

The narrator is inconsistent with his "accent" but that is Forgivable because the story just transcends. Sublime, heart-warming, tragic, you can form each scene in your mind! Wonderful 👏👏👏👏

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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting characters

Interesting characters. Good sense of Canadian village atmosphere. I will continue with this series. Recommended.

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  • bg
  • 28-03-16

Worried for nothing!

I love this series and author dearly. But I was afraid to buy these in audiobook format as I couldn't have stood listening to the French get all mangled up. Thankfully the narrator made me feel right at home. I am very impressed and glad to know I can safely continue to purchase this series!

3 people found this helpful

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  • DIANE
  • 04-06-14

Love Louise Penny's writing

I read Still Life out of order. I had already read a number of books in the Inspector Gamache series and decided that it was a good idea to go back and start from the beginning. One of the disappointing things about this decision was hearing the rendition by Adam Sims. Had I not heard Ralph Cosham's masterful rendition in later books, I would not have had anything to compare this book to. But I have, and Mr. Cosham brings something special to Ms. Penny's books that Mr. Sims was not able to accomplish, despite a good performance overall. As usual, this was a twisted, convoluted story that left the reader wondering "who dun nit" until quite far into the story. I just love the characters... especially Ruth Zardo.
This is a fascinating group of people and I will keep reading until I have caught up. Can't wait to read the new book!!!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan Moore
  • 25-07-17

Better the second time around.

I read this book first and then decided to listen to audio version several years later. While I actually enjoyed the story more the second time around, I did not enjoy the performance. I found the english/french versions of Gamache very distracting, irritating and unnecessary. I know Penny indicates that he speaks like a British royal in english, but I found the switch too jarring.

The story is wonderful. Penny has great storytelling ability. If you enjoy cozy mysteries then this series does not disappoint.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tammy Sheedy
  • 21-12-15

Realistic and brilliant

Beautiful story of Life, and friendship. Very well written, narrator was brilliant. Slow beginning but then was sucked in, transfixed till the last word.

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  • angi4262
  • 27-08-15

Loved it

So glad to find the beginning of a great series. I'll be looking up more!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lyn
  • 15-06-15

Easy Listening

Outcome not as obvious as you expect, Intrigued me enough to listen to the 2nd book and now I am hooked on the series

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  • S. Howarth
  • 05-06-15

Good story - just one thing drove me crazy...

This was a good story, with interesting characters. The one thing that drove me nuts was that the narrator did not have a consistent voice for the main character (Inspector Gamash). He kept alternating back and forth through the whole book: sometimes the Inspector had a thick French accent, and sometimes he had a thick British accent. I found this very annoying. Otherwise I was happy with the book and the performance.

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  • connor
  • 25-08-17

dreadful

I disliked all the characters from the start. This never improved. Had a dull ending.