The Cruelest Month

(Book 3)

Book Summary

The Cruelest Month is the third book in Louise Penny’s award winning Three Pines mystery series featuring the wise and beleaguered Inspector Armand Gamache.

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .

When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil—until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

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Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper. Wiping a strand of hair from her face, she smeared bits of grass, mud and some other brown stuff that might not be mud into her tangled hair. All around, villagers wandered with their baskets of brightly colored eggs, looking for the perfect hiding places. Ruth Zardo sat on the bench in the middle of the green tossing the eggs at random, though occasionally she’d haul off and peg someone in the back of the head or on the bottom. She had disconcertingly good aim for someone so old and so nuts, thought Clara.

‘You going tonight?’ Clara asked, trying to distract the old poet from taking aim at Monsieur Béliveau.

‘Are you kidding? Live people are bad enough; why would I want to bring one back from the dead?’

Audio Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

  • We’re told that Three Pines is “only ever found by people lost.” In what way are Peter and Clara, Ruth, Myrna, Gabri and Olivier, and even Gamache and his team of investigators, lost people?
  • Early in the story, when Peter is looking at Clara’s unfinished painting: “He suddenly felt something grab him. From behind. It reached forward and right into him. . . . Tears came to his eyes as he was overcome by this wraith that had threatened all his life. That he’d hidden from as a child, that he’d run from and buried and denied. It had stalked him and finally found him. Here, in his beloved wife’s studio. Standing in front of this creation of hers the terrible monster had found him. And devoured him.” What do you think Peter’s “monster” is? How does it manifest itself throughout the story? What becomes of the monster in the end?
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