Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2006
Format: 8 compact discs, 9.5 hours
Summary: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to investigate the death of Jane Neal, a well-liked, retired school teacher living in Three Pines, Canada. Jane has been shot with an arrow in the woods near her home. Was this an accident, or murder? If it was murder, who would want to kill a lovely elderly woman?
Thoughts: This is the first book in the Three Pines Mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Gamache. My mom had passed the fifth in the series on to me. So, I listened to that one first. That was a mistake. This is one of those series that really needs to be read from the beginning. Not only do the characters grow and change, but their relationships do too. Also, it's pretty easy to guess who the murderers are when they are in the first novels, but not the later ones.
Reading a later book first, did let me see that Louise Penny's writing grows as well. Although there were themes and layers in Still Life, The Brutal Telling, the fifth in the series, was deeper and had more layers. The mystery was more intricate and interesting in the fifth book. The author also shows more than tells in the later novel, which makes for an even better read. The writing style remains the same, focusing on characters and their relationships with one another, and bringing the reader into a wonderful setting using all the senses. Three Pines is a charming small town where everyone cares about one another (for the most part) and all help each other out. Art, music, literature, antiques, and food are topics throughout this author's stories. She has a nice way of describing with details, but not to the point that it takes away from the story. Her writing is not plot driven, but there are mysteries with red herrings and twists and turns. Her style is not suspenseful and fast paced. It is slow and rich.
Ralph Cosham just seemed like the perfect person to portray Chief Inspector Gamache. He really brought him to life and added to the experience of listening to the story. He had a clear voice that held my attention. He gave different voices to each character which made the story very easy to follow. Unfortunately, this narrator passed away a couple of years ago. It must have been very hard to replace him with a narrator for the newer books.
I recommend this audio book to those that want characters that grow and develop throughout a series. The mystery is not the highlight of the book. The characters have their personal stories that are interwoven throughout the book with the mystery bringing everything together. I believe you have to like "cozy" settings and series books to enjoy this one. Also, if you like fast-paced suspenseful mysteries, this is not for you.
Upton Tea Imports
Tea: Poire Creme
I received an 8 ounce mason jar of tea leaves for Christmas from Sweets N' Java, located in Holden, Massachusetts. With only a sticker with the name of this community coffee house on the top, and the name of the tea on the bottom, I tried to get more information about the tea online. I found that Sweets N' Java get their leaves from Upton Tea Imports which can be purchased directly online.
Although the label read "Poire Creme", I believe this blend was Green Rooibus Poire Creme, which is a caffeine free mix of small, thin green and brown Rooibus leaves and larger sunflower petals, flavored with pear and cream. The scent of the leaves was of sweet pear. I poured 8 ounces of water that had been boiled over 1 tablespoon of tea leaves. I let this brew for 8 minutes as recommended on the Upton Tea Imports website. The liquid was a beautiful orange that was cloudy at first, but became clearer as the tiny leaves settled to the bottom of the cup. The scent was of fruit. When tasting the tea my thought was of a kiwi smoothie. There was both a sweetness and sourness at first with a sweet pear and cream aftertaste. Not until I swallowed did I taste pear. There was a fruity taste at first, but it tasted more like kiwi to me. There was a lot going on here.
This was a refreshing tea. The blend was very different with a nice combination of sweet and sour- not too overpowering on either end. It was not a simple flavor. I would describe it as busy. Although I usually would not want to try a cream tea iced, because this was so refreshing, I may keep this one in mind for the summer. Also, Sweets N' Java looks like a delightful place to go. I will have to stop in soon!