The small town of Three Pines, in Quebec, was founded by Loyalist who didn't want to fight in the Revolution. You basically had to get lost to find the place. It's made up of a mixture of people who have all been searching for something, perhaps peace, and found it in Three Pines. But not right now. On Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, a hermit's bludgeoned body is found on the floor of the bistro owned by the delightful gay couple Gabri and Olivier and the used book store owner, Myrna. The man was not killed there but put there, perhaps to hurt Gabri and Olivier's business or for personal reasons.
When asked why no one reported a stranger around the townspeople looked at the Inspector Beauvoir and ask who? They don't have "a police force, no traffic lights, no sidewalks, no mayor. The volunteer fire department was run by that demented old poet Ruth Zardo, and most would rather perish in the flames than call her". But as Clara, the local artist whose work is now being discovered (and her own husband, already a known artist is dealing with her possible new fame) says "Every Quebec village has a vocation...Some make cheese, some wine, some pots. We produce bodies."
Olivier is keeping secrets from the police. He knew the hermit. He used to go and visit with him and have storytelling and the hermit would always give him something for the groceries Olivier would bring him. But Olivier isn't the only one keeping secrets. The Old cursed Hadley House, now bought by Marc and Dominique Gilbert, to be a spa and hotel, will affect the B and B and the bistro Gabri and Olivier own and vice versa. The two have been fighting heavily. Also, Marc's supposedly dead and saintly father, Vincent, has reappeared at the same time as the body and has been seen lurking in the woods. He claims he is there to help his son, but does he have some other purpose.
There's also the fact that the hermit is discovered to be from Czechoslovakia; probably an immigrant after the fall of the Soviet Union. Out in the woods of Three Pines there is a thriving Czech population who claim not to know the man, but was he someone who perhaps stole valuables from them promising to sell them when he got to Canada and give them the money, but didn't? The last one to lock up the bistro was Havoc, one of the Czech's who lived in the area. He might have discovered the hermit by following Olivier one night.
I really recommend you read at least one of the other books in the series to get a feel for the characters of the town (Still Life, A Fatal Grace, or The Cruelest Month). I can't say much more about the book without giving away the ending, except to say it's her best book yet and I can't wait to read the next one.
If anyone could come back from the dead to screw you up, it’d be her [your mother].
--Louise Penny (The Brutal Telling p 6)
I decided since I turned fifty I needed to get into shape…or at least, into a different shape. I’m aiming for pear rather than apple…Though I suspect my nature is to be the whole orchard.
-- Louise Penny (The Brutal Telling p 19)
He’d heard a judge say the most humane way to execute a prisoner was to tell him he was free. Then kill him.
--Louise Penny (The Brutal Telling p 23)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Brutal-Telling-Chief-Inspector-Gamache/dp/1250109116/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470229151&sr=1-1&keywords=the+brutal+telling+by+louise+penny
But, of course, as irony would have it, it was the ones who locked and alarmed who were killed. In Beauvoir’s experience Darwin was way wrong. The Fittest didn’t survive. They were killed by the idiocy of their neighbors, who continued to bumble along oblivious.
-- Louise Penny (The Brutal Telling p 27)