Here's the deal. I gave this novel more than a fair chance to hook me. Ninety pages. That's generous, though my most generous go was Stephen King's The Stand which [SPOILERS] carried me disgusted and annoyed to page five hundred sixteen with snotted choking death after snotted choking death until I'd had it and hurled the mucus memoir against the bathroom wall screaming ENOUGH!! King had blown his nose all over my occipital cortex and as much as I adored his other work, I had to take a stand with The Stand.
Still Life by Louise Penny, the first in the Inspector Gamache series is a tight-knit whodunit... if you're Canadian. If you're an American, it's a meandering whogivesadump about a septuagenarian who gets offed (rather lamely) during her morning stroll. And at page ninety of some three hundred, I knew precisely nothing about her save for the fact that she's [CANADIAN SPOILERS] a profoundly awful painter living in the maple granola countryside on the outskirts of MontreAAAAAH!! See I just bored myself!
"But Matt?..." you might interject. "It's only three hundred pages. You'll be done by the end of the week. Just give it a chance to get going and you'll see that..."
"No!" I'd interrupt, violently grabbing you by the lapels of your yogurt-stained tuxedo, knocking your dog-eared New Yorker out of your hands "I have three small children! There. Is. No. Time! 'Westworld' has premiered on HBO, you imbecile!"
I do not have the wherewithal to luxuriate in the sensuous nuances of a freshly baked muffin. Unless it IS a freshly baked muffin in which case I will MAKE time to put that junk in muh mouf! Because muffins are muffins, but poetic descriptions of muffins when there is murder afoot is downright ponderous.
Penny seems more interested in lavishing upon her readers the homey gooey warmth that is Canadian hippie pensioner village than getting down to business finding out who killed ole what's-her-face. Wait, someone died? I thought I was reading the novelization of a Thomas Kinkade abomination.
It's possible and highly probable given Penny's literary proliferation, that the subsequent Gamache novels are rife with twists and derring-do, but I'll never know because Still Life has already been hurled into the muffin mucus pile with its new pal, The Stand.
NEXT UP: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr