The Brutal Telling, the fifth novel in the series, is laden with dry wit, an involving plot and detailed perspectives about the human condition. Penny knows that mysteries set in quaint little villages run the risk of succumbing to Christie's St. Mary Mead syndrome – an unrealistic amount of crime for such a small place. But Penny uses the limited surroundings – in this case the Quebec village of Three Pines – to her advantage while poking fun at this genre tenet … The Brutal Telling has frequent laugh-out-loud passages, but Penny avoids overloading Three Pines with eccentrics. Even when a few characters are over the top, the author supplies a veneer of believability.
It’s always story time in the charming mysteries Louise Penny sets in sleepy Three Pines...While constant readers may think they know all there is to know about its eccentric villagers, Penny is a great one for springing surprises … As with any village mystery series, attrition is a constant problem. Happily, Penny replenishes the population by introducing new characters, including the very promising Gilbert family, who have bought the old Hadley house and plan to turn it into a luxury inn and spa. There may be bad blood between the Gilberts and Olivier, but that only adds to the social chemistry that’s always on the bubble in Three Pines.
When suspicion falls on one of Three Pines' most prominent citizens, it's up to Gamache to sift through the lies and uncover the truth. Though Gamache is undeniably the focus, Penny continues to develop her growing cast of supporting characters, including newcomers Marc and Dominique Gilbert, who are converting an old house—the site of two murders—into a spa. Readers keen for another glimpse into the life of Three Pines will be well rewarded.