More and more novels are being turned into television series and, for the most part, we can’t complain. Between shows like “Bridgerton,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Sinner,” viewers are witnessing their favorite characters and storylines brought off the page and onto the screen. Fans of Canadian author Louise Penny can join this group of viewers now that Prime Video has debuted “Three Pines,” a crime drama based on her “Chief Inspector Armand Gamache” 18-book series.
The pilot begins with the bizarre death of local author CC de Poitiers (Simone-Élise Girard, “Unité 9”), who is electrocuted while watching the town’s annual Christmas curling competition. Leading up to her death, it becomes apparent that CC is cold, entitled and unkind. When Montreal detective Chief Inspector Gamache (Alfred Molina, “Spider-Man: No Way Home”) arrives at the scene, he is convinced that the death was not a freak accident, but an intricately planned murder.
While audiences are constantly bombarded with crime series and mystery dramas, we must admit that an electric chair execution at a public town function is pretty interesting. This is especially true after we are introduced to each of the town’s members. As Inspector Gamache conducts his interviews, we begin to understand that CC didn’t fit in among the close-knit community, whose residents come together for book club meetings and group dinners. More importantly, it seems that these residents not only have shared interests and hobbies but a shared hatred for their deceased neighbor.
The viewer is introduced to key residents in the community, including bookstore owner Myrna Landers (Tamara Brown, “Helix”), who wouldn’t host CC’s book signing at her shop, and bistro owner Olivier Brulé (Frédéric-Antoine Guimond, “The Cut”), who refused to have CC’s launch party at his restaurant. These two are among many residents who seemed to have a vendetta against CC. In fact, another resident, Ruth Zardo (Clare Coulter, “Cross My Heart”), warns Gamache, “If you don’t belong here, Three Pines will find you out and chase you out, one way or another.”
As Gamache begins to question the innocence of each of the town’s members, so does the audience. When asked about the deceased, the characters claim they barely knew her, but as the show emphasizes, Three Pines is a small community of tight-knit residents. The cast is incredibly compelling, and every individual plays a significant role in creating skepticism in the viewer. Their suspicious nature and allusive behavior develop a mysterious tone that only increases as the episode progresses.
“Three Pines” does an excellent job of building suspense throughout the pilot, leaving the audience completely hooked. By the end of the episode, we remain unsure of who committed the crime. As we’ve discovered, there are numerous people with enough hate and motive to kill CC, making it difficult to decide whether one of the town’s residents is responsible for her murder or if it was a group effort. Fortunately for us, we can live vicariously through Inspector Gamache as he gets closer and closer to cracking the case.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.