Miss Jane Neal kept a well-read book on her nightstand, C. Lewis' Surprised by Joy.
That title is a fitting phrase for Still Life. Three Pines delivers. Toronto Star, Jack Batten A delightful and clever collection of false leads, red herrings, meditations on human nature, strange behavior and other diverting stuff. The Calgary Herald , Joanne Sasvari, This is a much darker, cleverer, funnier and, finally, more hopeful novel than even the great Dame Agatha could have penned. It's light, witty and poignant, a thrilling debut from a new Canadian crime writer.
As the last note of the chant escaped the Blessed Chapel a great silence fell, and with it came an even greater disquiet. The silence stretched on. And on. These were men used to silence, but this seemed extreme, even to them. And still they stood in their long black robes and white tops, motionless. These were men also used to waiting.
But this too seemed extreme. The less disciplined among them stole glances at the tall, slim, elderly man who had been the last to file in and would be the first to leave. Dom Philippe kept his eyes closed. Where once this was a moment of profound peace, a private moment with his private God, when Vigils had ended and before he signaled for the Angelus, now it was simply escape.
Besides, he knew what was there. What was always there. What had been there for hundreds of years before he arrived and would, God willing, be there for centuries after he was buried in the cemetery. Two rows of men across from him, in black robes with white hoods, a simple rope tied at their waists. And beside him to his right, two more rows of men. They were facing each other across the stone floor of the chapel, like ancient battle lines. No, he told his weary mind.
Just opposing points of view. Expressed in a healthy community. Then why was he so reluctant to open his eyes? To get the day going? To signal the great bells that would ring the Angelus to the forests and birds and lakes and fish. And the monks. To the angels and all the saints.
And God. In the great silence it sounded like a bomb. With an effort he continued to keep his eyes closed. He remained still, and quiet. But there was no peace anymore. Now there was only turmoil, inside and out. He could feel it, vibrating from and between the two rows of waiting men. He could feel it vibrating within him. Dom Philippe counted to one hundred. Then opening his blue eyes, he stared directly across the chapel, to the short, round man who stood with his eyes open, his hands folded on his stomach, a small smile on his endlessly patient face.
And the bells began.
The perfect, round, rich toll left the bell tower and took off into the early morning darkness. It skimmed over the clear lake, the forests, the rolling hills. To be heard by all sorts of creatures. A clarion call. Their day had begun. That would be ridiculous. In the background an old Beau Dommage album was playing. Beauvoir hummed quietly to the familiar tune.
Beauvoir laughed. Poor Mom. Felt she had to marry him.
After all, who else would have him? Beauvoir laughed again. I could hardly give you a worse gift.
He reached down beside the table in the sunny kitchen. A platter of bacon and scrambled eggs with melted Brie sat on the small pine table. The cat leapt to the ground and found a spot on the floor where the sun hit. Beauvoir lifted it into plain sight. Happy anniversary.
And I got you nothing. Annie took the plunger. You are full of it, after all.
She thrust the plunger forward, gently prodding him with the red rubber suction cup as though it was a rapier and she the swordsman. So like Annie. Where other women might have pretended the ridiculous plunger was a wand, she pretended it was a sword. Of course, Jean-Guy realized, he would never have given a toilet plunger to any other woman. Only Annie. As he spoke he looked at Annie.
Her eyes never left him, barely blinked. She took in every word, every gesture, every inflection. Enid, his ex-wife, had also listened. But there was always an edge of desperation about it, a demand. As though he owed her. As though she was dying and he was the medicine. Enid left him drained, and yet still feeling inadequate.
But Annie was gentler. More generous.
His search leads to a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official whose past may hold the clues to the identities of the elusive killers. He had wrought them up to a pitch of dangerous passion, and they were ripe for any violence to which he urged them. He hoped the young agent couldnt hear the strain in his voice, the flattening as the Chief Inspector fought to keep his voice authoritative, certain. Mick Shannon. Syfy Thur. A social misfit with psychic powers wreaks havoc at her prom to get even with pranksters.
Like her father, she listened carefully and quietly. With Enid he never talked about his work, and she never asked. With Annie he told her everything. He told her what they found, how they felt, and who they arrested. Beauvoir nodded and chewed and saw the Chief Inspector in the dim cabin. Whispering the story. So as the two homicide investigators deftly searched, Chief Inspector Gamache had told Beauvoir about the bathmat.
follow And somehow deciding a bathmat was the perfect hostess gift. Her mother never tired of asking either. Her father, on the other hand, decided I was an imbecile and never mentioned it again. That was worse. When they died we found the bathmat in their linen closet, still in its plastic wrapping, with the card attached.
Beauvoir stopped talking and looked across at Annie. She smelled fresh and clean. Like a citron grove in the warm sunshine. No makeup. She wore warm slippers and loose, comfortable clothing. Annie was aware of fashion, and happy to be fashionable. But happier to be comfortable. She was not slim.