Gamache Goes Abroad – The Brutal Telling

Off to Greece this week, with the cover of The Brutal Telling as envisioned by our Greek colleagues. There’s clearly a stark difference between the two cover treatments: while we chose to emphasize the fall season in our jacket approach, they focus on traditional mystery elements. 

With the silhouette of a raven, their cover puts the reader in the mind of Edgar Allen Poe, and immediately suggests something sinister is afoot. In contrast, the US jacket focuses on the vibrant fall foliage of Canada, with only the darkness at the edges to symbolize danger.

Both jackets, however, speak to the untamed landscape that Chief Inspector Gamache must navigate to solve the crime. 

Which cover do you think best fits the story?

If you were designing a new cover, which elements of the book would you choose to highlight?

Discussion on “Gamache Goes Abroad – The Brutal Telling

  1. Sharon Hayden says:


  2. Michele H. says:

    The starkness of the Greek cover is intriguing with the mysterious black crow. The US jacket cover is appealing in the rich use of color with the fall leaves which helps to set the season.
    However, given the opportunity, I would design a cover of a foreboding forest with a dark dwelling and the one bright point one be a bloodstained antique figurine peaking out of the doorway.
    I had to admit I needed to review The Brutal Telling introductory recap to remind me of the plot.

  3. Maureen Miller says:

    The leaves are so lovely and their colors, after reading, does bring to mind the Amber Room. I’m a color girl so I do gravitate to colors first.

  4. Bob Blauvelt says:

    Your name looks quite interesting in Greek. What is the translation of the title?

    • Ginny Kavvadias says:

      The Greek translation is “Brutal Words”.

    • Robert P Blauvelt says:

      And, by the way, our U.S. edition has a completely different cover, though still employing the orangy-red colors. Ours has a picture of a blazing hearth in a cobble-stone fireplace, which yells “Bistro” to me.

  5. Patricia says:

    Quoth the raven, “I like fall foliage more!”

  6. Danielle D Guryansky says:

    I like the Fall foliage more ……. peacefulness before a murder ?

  7. Linda Sandefer says:

    This week I am all in for the Canadian version.

    I just finished re-reading this book for the 3-4 time, and in the Gamache site recap it states, Hermit tells Olivier a story about Chaos destroying everything in the world except one small village.
    I have read it all these times and I see Olivier telling the story to the Hermit.
    Love the books and go there whenever I need an escape.
    Louise is an amazing writer!

  8. Judith Shadford says:

    The Brutal Telling is one of Penny’s most powerful novels. A cover using the carving of the boat with the young man looking over his shoulder in horror would be perfect. It is the image that stays with me, year after year.

  9. Linda Anger says:

    So fascinating to see the differences in cover images!
    Again this time, I prefer the Canadian/American cover – and it happens that I have just started reading The Brutal Telling for the 4th time.

    It is one of my favorites of the whole series – mostly because of the story within the story, which is so powerfully written, and is what I might try to portray were I to design the cover. I’d stick with the fall colors, but perhaps have an open book in one corner with blank pages except for a hand-drawn, small figurine of “the boy” – with no words at all.

  10. Melissa Omerberg says:

    I don’t think either cover is very evocative of the story. If I were the designer I’d see if I could get the rights to a work by Emily Carr and incorporate it into the cover art.

  11. Sylvia Kark says:

    I like the Canadian American one too. So fun to think about these. They are like a sound track. You need them but you may not really notice them!

  12. Marie- Thérèse says:

    I prefer the Canadian cover also.
    I love all the book in the series, I love every characters, they have become family members. Louise Penny is such a powerful writer and all the details, smells scenes, I feel part of the village. With the pandemic and health issues I really appreciate even more your books I can escape in them so thank you very much. Merci beaucoup!

  13. Jane Nolen says:

    I like the Canadian cover. I’m rereading this one also. Love Penney’s writings. I was late to the game, so I was able to read the series without stopping. I like her characters. If they were real people, I’d love to live in 3 pines. My word to our favorite writer: WRITE FASTER!!!!!

  14. Susie Stern says:

    I had forgotten about this book and after reading the synopsis, I must say it is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. While all the books delve deeply into the characters, there always seems to be a strong camaraderie among them and they all “love” each other. There are exceptions of course – what happens with Clara and Peter; but this is different – Olivier’s lies, stealing and deceitfulness touches all of them so deeply, forgiveness becomes something they all have to work at. Gamache, who I would marry in a heartbeat, hates what he has to do, but knows he must do so. His compassion for this town and it’s people shines through. I agree with Judith about the cover – that scene – or the fall foliage with the hermit’s cabin sticking out somewhere. The Greek cover really doesn’t say anything about the story.

  15. Glenda Urmacher says:

    Something must be wrong with me because the book covers don’t do much for me. Not just these, but all book covers. But the characters are part of my family.
    I can feel their pain, I can feel their joy, and they handle their individual situations with such elan.
    And although I am married, I too could marry Gamache, or run away with him.He is a man’s man, but he has a feminine “nashuma”. A yiddish word for soul.
    And the bistro; we lived in Paris for a year, long time ago, and there was a bistro similar with two guys who ran it, and the customers who were regulars, and became like family.
    I can dream of the little hamlet when I have had a trying day, and want to escape electronic gadgets, and phony people.
    Waiting for the new one to get to my library.

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