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The Cruelest Month: Book summary and reviews of The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

The Cruelest Month

Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, #3

by Louise Penny

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny X
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
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  • Published Dec 2008
    416 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

When a group of villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil?until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death? Or was the victim somehow helped along?

Enter Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. He knows evil when he sees it. But this time, he’s investigating a case that will force him to face his very own ghosts ... as well as those residing in this seemingly idyllic town. Are the residents of Three Pines hiding something great and sinister about their past? Or is April about to deliver on its fateful threat?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Arthur Ellis Award–winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot." - Publishers Weekly

"Who wouldn’t be charmed by the dramas of [the Three Pines] community…? Yet it is Penny’s fastidious, cultured, and smart Inspector Gamache who makes The Cruelest Month impossible to put down." - People magazine

"Starred Review. Perhaps the deftest talent to arrive since Minette Walters, Penny produces what many have tried but few have mastered: a psychologically acute cozy. If you don't give your heart to Gamache, you may have no heart to give." - Kirkus

"How much do I love [this] series? So much that I don’t merely crave the next installment - I want to live in Three Pines… Let Penny takes exquisite care to create, flesh out, and nurture the relationships in the village and on the police force. I will just have to sulk in the suburbs until she writes the next one." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The thing about the Gamache novels is that while the crimes are intriguing...Gamache [is] completely original." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Gamache is an engaging, modern-day Poirot...entertaining and thought-provoking." - Library Journal

This information about The Cruelest Month was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Cathryn Conroy

This Is No Ordinary Murder Mystery! It's Intelligent and Entertaining—A Literary Murder Mystery
This is a murder mystery. But as soon as you see it's written by Louise Penny, you know it's no ordinary murder mystery. It's also a story of love and betrayal, hope and horror, rebirth and death. It is a book that is entertaining (see above: murder mystery), but even more so it is a book that plumbs the psychological depths of we humans as we try to live and love and be happy. I define it as a literary murder mystery.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force for the province, is sent back to the idyllic village of Three Pines to investigate a murder. (OK, the high murder rate for such a small town does take away some of that idyllic sense.) It's April, and since this takes place in Canada it snows one day and is sunny and warm the next. Ah, the cruelest month—but it's not only the weather that incites cruelty. During a séance in the old Hadley house on Easter evening, one of the residents of Three Pines dies. Was this individual literally scared to death or was it something more sinister? Gamache and his crew are on the case. But someone from the police force is on Gamache's case, out to destroy his life.

The intelligent, multilayered plot is engrossing for even the most discerning reader. Translation: If murder mysteries are too mundane for your highbrow literary tastes, give Louise Penny a try. But you must start at the beginning of this now 16-book series (No. 17 is on the way in August 2021) with "Still Life."

A bit of advice: Do NOT read this book when you are hungry. I know, I know. It's a murder mystery, and that's a weird piece of advice. Just trust me on this one.

Aside to Louise Penny: Please, please, please write a cookbook with the recipes for all these delectable dishes you describe in such mouthwatering detail.

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Author Information

Louise Penny Author Biography

Photo: Jean-Francois Bérubé

Louise Penny's first novel, Still Life, won the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Her second book, A Fatal Grace, won the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel, as did her third, The Cruelest Month. Her next, A Rule Against Murder, was a New York Times bestseller, followed by The Brutal Telling, which was a New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and National Indie bestseller. Louise lives in a small village south of Montreal.

Pronunciation Guide: Louise Penny's website provides a wealth of interesting information about her and her books including a pronunciation guide to the characters and places referenced in her books.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series (to 2020)

  1. Still Life (2005)
  2. Dead Cold (2006) aka A Fatal Grace
  3. The Cruellest ...

... Full Biography
Link to Louise Penny's Website

Other books by Louise Penny at BookBrowse
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