The 1st book in a very popular series, set in Quebec, Canada, in Three Pines, a tiny village between Montreal and the U.S. border. The main detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is in his 50’s and getting a bit world weary. He has his way of interviewing people and getting answers, but he is refreshingly free of “the Great Detective” syndrome. He freely admits that he doesn’t know everything and learns about new fields with every case.
Miss Jane Neal, a popular elderly resident of Three Pines, has just decided to enter one of her heretofore private paintings in a local art show. Shortly after this announcement she is murdered by an arrow while walking outside, without her beloved dog. While she seems to be the kind of person that everyone loved, there also seem to be several possible suspects. In this village everyone knows everyone else and the cast of unusual characters seems especially full.
The characters are interesting, the setting is unusual, there is lots of colorful swearing in French, and we see the situation through several different points of view – which makes the author’s ability to conceal the mystery’s solution very impressive.