A synopsis of this novel's plot and action has been covered in many of the reviews to date, so I won't bore readers with a repeat of those details. Rather I would like to address the many fans of Louis Penny's Three Pines series. This is the fifth book in the series and I, like so many other readers, devoured the first four with gusto, falling in love with Three Pines and it's wonderful, albeit quirky, residents. Thus it was good news to have a fifth book in the continuing series (the sixth book is to be released this Fall), but, unfortunately, I found bad news in the actual reading. That's not to say that the writing wasn't great, as Penny's writing is always smooth and satisfying, but Penny seems to have turned upon her creations. After spending four books creating a village in which readers wanted to live and wonderful characters who readers wanted to spend time with, Penny, like Saturn devouring his children, ripped open the ugly side of some of her characters. I found myself aghast with horror and emotional distaste at the thoughts and actions of characters that I had come to love through her first four books. I won't spoil it for those of you who have not yet read this book by giving specific details, but, if you are like me, you'll find your emotions in a state of flux as you come to hate characters that you had previously really liked. Penny may have been trying to achieve a more realistic picture of what small villages and people are truly like, but, if I had wanted that kind of realism, I would have picked up a non-fiction book. Instead of eagerly awaiting the next book in the series (as I did with each of the first four), I now find myself wondering if I even want to bother reading about these nasty, jealous, greedy, criminal characters again. Additionally, the denouement of The Brutal Telling is less than satisfactory, leaving numerous loose ends untied or simply unaddressed at all. This is not Penny's best work, instead it goes a long way towards tearing down all that she had spent four books building up.