The Beautiful Mystery (Armand Gamache Series #8) [NOOK Book]

Overview


The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time  No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous ...
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The Beautiful Mystery (Armand Gamache Series #8)

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Overview


The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time  No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.” But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of  prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between. The Beautiful Mystery is the winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for best novel, the 2013 Anthony Award for best novel and the 2013 Macavity Award for best novel.

Winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for Best Novel

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…an original variation on the "no exit" whodunit…Penny writes with grace and intelligence about complex people struggling with complex emotions. But her great gift is her uncanny ability to describe what might seem indescribable—the play of light, the sound of celestial music, a quiet sense of peace.
—Marilyn Stasio
Publishers Weekly
Religious music serves as the backdrop for bestseller Penny’s excellent eighth novel featuring Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté (after 2011’s A Trick of the Light). Gamache and his loyal number two, Insp. Jean-Guy Beauvoir, travel to the isolated monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, which produced a CD of Gregorian chants that became a surprise smash hit, to investigate the murder of its choirmaster, Frère Mathieu, found within an enclosed garden in a fetal position with his head bashed in. Gamache soon finds serious divisions among the outwardly unified and placid monks, and begins to encourage confidences among them as a first step to catching the killer. Traditional mystery fans can look forward to a captivating whodunit plot, a clever fair-play clue concealed in plain view, and the deft use of humor to lighten the story’s dark patches. On a deeper level, the crime provides a means for Penny’s unusually empathic, all-too-fallible lead to unearth truths about human passions and weaknesses while avoiding simple answers. 150,000 first printing; author tour. Agent: Patty Moosbrugger, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Ralph Cosham expertly presents Penny’s writing, portraying Gamache’s quietly thoughtful style and Beauvoir’s earthy personality and giving each monk distinction and humanity…Quebecois accents and a sprinkling of French words flow seamlessly amid the story and add greatly to the listening pleasure.” – AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award Winner

“In measured, sonorous tones and an accent reflective of the French Canadian setting, Cosham conjures the disquieting atmosphere of an isolated Quebec monastery, where the choir director’s murder invades the monks’ silence and evokes the pervasive influence of their chants…Penny’s gorgeous prose sings in Cosham’s hypnotic performance and mirrors the chants, with phrases repeated for emphasis and intensity, creating a musical cadence. This is a superior production of serious multidimensional drama, breathtakingly performed.” – Booklist, starred review

“Cosham’s approach enhances the reverent tone while still plucking Penny’s ripe humor from the vines that weave their way throughout the dark plot. Penny has a gift with dialogue, and Cosham makes that gift pop for the audience…there is no mystery about the allure of Louise Penny’s series or the beauty with which Ralph Cosham continues to narrate it. This is a series that should be experienced at least once on audio, and THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is the perfect choice.” – Shelf Awareness

“Not enough praise can be accorded Ralph Cosham, who has served as the reader for all the audiobooks in this series. His voice is simply magnificent.” – Newark Star-Ledger

“Penny’s dark atmosphere and characters are as always masterfully interpreted by narrator Ralph Cosham in his excellent, beautifully paced, fully-voiced narration...Listeners will want the next, the ninth, volume in the series as soon as possible. Excellent as always with the brilliant combination of Cosham and Penny.” – Sound Commentary

“This is much more than a whodunit; Penny renders her characters with real depth and puts them in an unusually intriguing setting and situation. And Ralph Cosham’s excellent, empathetic narration enhances it all.” – BookPage

“Narrator Ralph Cosham brings Penny’s vivid descriptions and lyrical writing to life. His hypnotic voice and unhurried pace combine to draw the listener into the seemingly tranquil world of the monastery and its inhabitants. Cosham deftly handles the Quebecois accents and intricate plot twists, balancing the emotional tensions of this multilayered story.” – Library Journal

“The narration is fantastic with the occasional French phrase flowing beautifully off the tongue of narrator Ralph Cosham.” – Brookings Register Weekend

Praise for  the print edition of Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery:

“Louise Penny has crafted an almost perfect crime—haunting, puzzling, brilliant and indeed a most beautiful mystery. Chief Inspector Gamache is one of my favorite characters in fiction. Here he must penetrate a cloistered monastery deep in the northern woods of Quebec, where a murdered monk is his ticket to get in. This is a tour-de-force for Penny, and a thrilling, intelligent read.” —Linda Fairstein

"A. Ma. Zing!  A remarkably courageous—and very beautiful—book that leaps the abyss between faith and despair." —Diana Gabaldon

Praise for Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light:

"The superbly gifted Louise Penny is on my secret shortlist of must-read authors. A Trick of the Light will not only keep you engrossed from start to finish, it will teach you something new about love, truth, and the human heart." Lisa Scottoline, author of Save Me

“Stellar. . . . Penny proves again that she is one of our finest writers.” —People Magazine (4 out of 4 stars)

“Deceptively charming . . . delivering acute insights into the complicated motives of complex characters." —New York Times Book Review (one of the Notable Crime Books of 2011)

"Penny, elevating herself to the pantheon that houses P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, demonstrates an exquisite touch with characterization, plotting and artistic sensitivity." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This is a beautiful book, gorgeously written and carefully constructed.” —The Globe and Mail

Library Journal
Penny's (A Trick of the Light) eighth elegant entry in her Agatha Award-winning series is a locked-room mystery set in a remote monastery deep in the wilderness of northern Québec. There are 24 cloistered monks. One is dead. There are only 23 suspects. The monks have taken a vow of silence, except that they made the most beautiful recording of Gregorian chant ever heard. And it caused a schism. And then a murder. Chief Inspector Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec come to investigate the murder and the difficulties in this formerly peaceful order that caused it. It also brings the viper within the Sûreté to this remote place and exposes the rot inside Gamache's own house. VERDICT This heart-rending tale is a marvelous addition to Penny's acclaimed series. Fans won't be disappointed. [See Prepub Alert, 7/5/12.]—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC, Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
A prior's murder takes Quebec's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his sidekick, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, inside the walls of the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loupes. The Gilbertine order, long extinct except for the two dozen brothers who live on an island apart from the rest of the world, enforces silence on its members. In the absence of speech, a raised eyebrow or averted gaze can speak intense hostility. Now someone has found a new way to communicate such hostility: by bashing Frère Mathieu, the monastery's choirmaster and prior, over the head. Gamache and Beauvoir soon find that the order is devoted heart and soul to Gregorian chant; that its abbot, Dom Philippe, has recruited its members from among the ranks of other orders for their piety, their musical abilities and a necessary range of domestic and maintenance skills; and that an otherworldly recording the brothers had recently made of Gregorian chants has sharply polarized the community between the prior's men, who want to exploit their unexpected success by making another recording and speaking more widely of their vocation, and the abbot's men, who greet the prospect of a more open and worldly community with horror. Nor are conflicts limited to the holy suspects. Gamache, Beauvoir and Sûreté Chief Superintendent Sylvain Françoeur, arriving unexpectedly and unwelcome, tangle over the proper way to conduct the investigation, the responsibility for the collateral damage in Gamache's last case (A Trick of the Light, 2011, etc.) and Beauvoir's loyalty to his two chiefs and himself in ways quite as violent as any their hosts can provide. Elliptical and often oracular, but also remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250015273
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Series: Armand Gamache Series , #8
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 6,700
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Louise  Penny

LOUISE PENNY is The New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of eight previous Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has been awarded the John Creasey Dagger, Nero, Macavity and Barry Awards, as well as two each of the Arthur Ellis and Dilys Awards. Additionally, Louise has won four Anthony Awards and five Agatha Awards, the most recent for The Beautiful Mystery, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and was named one of year's best crime novels by Booklist. She lives in a small village south of Montréal with her husband, Michael.

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Read an Excerpt


THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY (Chapter 1)

As the last note of the chant escaped the Blessed Chapel a great silence fell, and with it came an even greater disquiet.

The silence stretched on. And on.

These were men used to silence, but this seemed extreme, even to them.

And still they stood in their long black robes and white tops, motionless.

Waiting.

These were men also used to waiting. But this too seemed extreme.

The less disciplined among them stole glances at the tall, slim, elderly man who had been the last to file in and would be the first to leave.

Dom Philippe kept his eyes closed. Where once this was a moment of profound peace, a private moment with his private God, when Vigils had ended and before he signaled for the Angelus, now it was simply escape.

He closed his eyes because he didn’t want to see.

Besides, he knew what was there. What was always there. What had been there for hundreds of years before he arrived and would, God willing, be there for centuries after he was buried in the cemetery. Two rows of men across from him, in black robes with white hoods, a simple rope tied at their waists.

And beside him to his right, two more rows of men.

They were facing each other across the stone floor of the chapel, like ancient battle lines.

No, he told his weary mind. No. I mustn’t think of this as a battle, or a war. Just opposing points of view. Expressed in a healthy community.

Then why was he so reluctant to open his eyes? To get the day going?

To signal the great bells that would ring the Angelus to the forests and birds and lakes and fish. And the monks. To the angels and all the saints. And God.

A throat cleared.

In the great silence it sounded like a bomb. And to the abbot’s ears it sounded like what it was.

A challenge.

With an effort he continued to keep his eyes closed. He remained still, and quiet. But there was no peace anymore. Now there was only turmoil, inside and out. He could feel it, vibrating from and between the two rows of waiting men.

He could feel it vibrating within him.

Dom Philippe counted to one hundred. Slowly. Then opening his blue eyes, he stared directly across the chapel, to the short, round man who stood with his eyes open, his hands folded on his stomach, a small smile on his endlessly patient face.

The abbot’s eyes narrowed slightly, in a glare, then he recovered and raising his slim right hand, he signaled. And the bells began.

The perfect, round, rich toll left the bell tower and took off into the early morning darkness. It skimmed over the clear lake, the forests, the rolling hills. To be heard by all sorts of creatures.

And twenty-four men, in a remote monastery in Québec.

A clarion call. Their day had begun.

*   *   *

“You’re not serious,” laughed Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

“I am,” nodded Annie. “I swear to God it’s the truth.”

“Are you telling me,” he picked up another piece of maple-cured bacon from the platter, “that your father gave your mother a bathmat as a gift when they first started dating?”

“No, no. That would be ridiculous.”

“Sure would,” he agreed and ate the bacon in two big bites. In the background an old Beau Dommage album was playing. “La complainte du phoque en Alaska.” About a lonely seal whose love had disappeared. Beauvoir hummed quietly to the familiar tune.

“He gave it to my grandmother the first time they met, as a hostess gift, thanking her for inviting him to dinner.”

Beauvoir laughed. “He never told me that,” he finally managed.

“Well, Dad doesn’t exactly mention it in polite conversation. Poor Mom. Felt she had to marry him. After all, who else would have him?”

Beauvoir laughed again. “So I guess the bar is set pretty low. I could hardly give you a worse gift.”

He reached down beside the table in the sunny kitchen. They’d made breakfast together that Saturday morning. A platter of bacon and scrambled eggs with melted Brie sat on the small pine table. He’d thrown on a sweater this early autumn day and gone around the corner from Annie’s apartment to the bakery on rue St-Denis for croissants and pain au chocolat. Then Jean-Guy had wandered in and out of the local shops, picking up a couple of cafés, the Montréal weekend papers, and something else.

“What’ve you got there?” Annie Gamache asked, leaning across the table. The cat leapt to the ground and found a spot on the floor where the sun hit.

“Nothing,” he grinned. “Just a little je ne sais quoi I saw, and thought of you.”

Beauvoir lifted it into plain sight.

“You asshole,” Annie said, and laughed. “It’s a toilet plunger.”

“With a bow on it,” said Beauvoir. “Just for you, ma chère. We’ve been together for three months. Happy anniversary.”

“Of course, the toilet plunger anniversary. And I got you nothing.”

“I forgive you,” he said.

Annie took the plunger. “I’ll think of you every time I use it. Though I think you’ll be the one using it most of the time. You are full of it, after all.”

“Too kind,” said Beauvoir, ducking his head in a small bow.

She thrust the plunger forward, gently prodding him with the red rubber suction cup as though it was a rapier and she the swordsman.

Beauvoir smiled and took a sip of his rich, aromatic café. So like Annie. Where other women might have pretended the ridiculous plunger was a wand, she pretended it was a sword.

Of course, Jean-Guy realized, he would never have given a toilet plunger to any other woman. Only Annie.

“You lied to me,” she said, sitting back down. “Dad obviously told you about the bathmat.”

“He did,” admitted Beauvoir. “We were in Gaspé, in a poacher’s cabin, searching for evidence when your father opened a closet and found not one but two brand-new bathmats, still in their wrapping.”

As he spoke he looked at Annie. Her eyes never left him, barely blinked. She took in every word, every gesture, every inflection. Enid, his ex-wife, had also listened. But there was always an edge of desperation about it, a demand. As though he owed her. As though she was dying and he was the medicine.

Enid left him drained, and yet still feeling inadequate.

But Annie was gentler. More generous.

Like her father, she listened carefully and quietly.

With Enid he never talked about his work, and she never asked. With Annie he told her everything.

Now, while putting strawberry confiture on the warm croissant, he told her about the poacher’s cabin, about the case, the savage murder of a family. He told her what they found, how they felt, and who they arrested.

“The bathmats turned out to be the key pieces of evidence,” said Beauvoir, lifting the croissant to his mouth. “Though it took us a long time to figure it out.”

“Is that when Dad told you about his own sad history with bathmats?”

Beauvoir nodded and chewed and saw the Chief Inspector in the dim cabin. Whispering the story. They weren’t sure when the poacher would return, and they didn’t want to be caught there. They had a search warrant, but they didn’t want him to know that. So as the two homicide investigators deftly searched, Chief Inspector Gamache had told Beauvoir about the bathmat. Of showing up for one of the most important meals of his life, desperate to impress the parents of the woman he’d fallen hopelessly in love with. And somehow deciding a bathmat was the perfect hostess gift.

“How could you have thought that, sir?” Beauvoir had whispered, glancing out the cracked and cobwebbed window, hoping not to see the shabby poacher returning with his kill.

“Well, now,” Gamache had paused, obviously trying to recall his own thinking. “Madame Gamache often asks the same question. Her mother never tired of asking either. Her father, on the other hand, decided I was an imbecile and never mentioned it again. That was worse. When they died we found the bathmat in their linen closet, still in its plastic wrapping, with the card attached.”

Beauvoir stopped talking and looked across at Annie. Her hair was still damp from the shower they’d shared. She smelled fresh and clean. Like a citron grove in the warm sunshine. No makeup. She wore warm slippers and loose, comfortable clothing. Annie was aware of fashion, and happy to be fashionable. But happier to be comfortable.

She was not slim. She was not a stunning beauty. Annie Gamache was none of the things he’d always found attractive in a woman. But Annie knew something most people never learn. She knew how great it was to be alive.

It had taken him almost forty years, but Jean-Guy Beauvoir finally understood it too. And knew now there was no greater beauty.

Annie was approaching thirty now. She’d been a gawky teenager when they’d first met. When the Chief Inspector had brought Beauvoir into his homicide division at the Sûreté du Québec. Of the hundreds of agents and inspectors under the Chief’s command, he’d chosen this young, brash agent no one else had wanted as his second in command.

Had made him part of the team, and eventually, over the years, part of the family.

Though even the Chief Inspector had no idea how much a part of the family Beauvoir had become.

“Well,” said Annie with a wry smile, “now we have our own bathroom story to baffle our children with. When we die they’ll find this, and wonder.”

She held up the plunger, with its cheery red bow.

Beauvoir didn’t dare say anything. Did Annie have any idea what she’d just said? The ease with which she assumed they’d have children. Grandchildren. Would die together. In a home that smelled of fresh citron and coffee. And had a cat curled around the sunshine.

They’d been together for three months and had never talked about the future. But hearing it now, it just seemed natural. As though this was always the plan. To have children. To grow old together.

Beauvoir did the math. He was ten years older than her, and would almost certainly die first. He was relieved.

But there was something troubling him.

“We need to tell your parents,” he said.

Annie grew quiet, and picked at her croissant. “I know. And it’s not like I don’t want to. But,” she hesitated and looked around the kitchen, and out into her book-lined living room, “this is nice too. Just us.”

“Are you worried?”

“About how they’ll take it?”

Annie paused and Jean-Guy’s heart suddenly pounded. He’d expected her to deny it. To assure him she wasn’t the least bit worried whether her parents would approve.

But instead, she’d hesitated.

“Maybe a little,” Annie admitted. “I’m sure they’ll be thrilled, but it changes things. You know?”

He did know, but hadn’t dared admit it to himself. Suppose the Chief didn’t approve? He could never stop them, but it would be a disaster.

No, Jean-Guy told himself for the hundredth time, it’ll be all right. The Chief and Madame Gamache will be happy. Very happy.

But he wanted to be sure. To know. It was in his nature. He collected facts for a living, and this uncertainty was taking its toll. It was the only shadow in a life suddenly, unexpectedly luminous.

He couldn’t keep lying to the Chief. He’d persuaded himself this wasn’t a lie, just keeping his private life private. But in his heart it felt like a betrayal.

“Do you really think they’ll be happy?” he asked Annie, and hated the neediness that had crept into his voice. But Annie either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

She leaned toward him, her elbows and forearms resting on the croissant flakes on the pine table, and took his hand. She held it warm in hers.

“To know we’re together? My father would be so happy. It’s my mother who hates you.…”

Seeing the look on his face she laughed and squeezed his hand. “I’m kidding. She adores you. Always has. They think of you as family, you know. As another son.”

He felt his cheeks burn, to hear those words, and felt ashamed, but noticed that once again Annie didn’t care, or comment. She just held his hand and looked into his eyes.

“Sort of incestuous, then,” he finally managed.

“Yes,” she agreed, letting go of his hand to take a sip of café au lait. “My parents’ dream come true.” She laughed, sipped, then set the cup down again. “You do know he’ll be thrilled.”

“Surprised too?”

Annie paused, thinking. “I think he’ll be stunned. Funny, isn’t it? Dad spends his life looking for clues, piecing things together. Gathering evidence. But when something’s right under his nose, he misses it. Too close, I guess.”

“Matthew 10:36,” murmured Beauvoir.

“Pardon?”

“It’s something your father tells us, in homicide. One of the first lessons he teaches new recruits.”

“A biblical quote?” asked Annie. “But Mom and Dad never go to church.”

“He apparently learned it from his mentor when he first joined the Sûreté.”

The phone rang. Not the robust peal of the landline, but the cheerful, invasive trill of a cell. It was Beauvoir’s. He ran to the bedroom and grabbed it off the nightstand.

No number was displayed, just a word.

“Chief.”

He almost hit the small green phone icon, then hesitated. Instead he strode out of the bedroom and into Annie’s light-filled, book-filled living room. He couldn’t speak to the Chief standing in front of the bed where he’d just that morning made love to the Chief’s daughter.

“Oui, allô,” he said, trying to sound casual.

“Sorry to bother you,” came the familiar voice. It managed to be both relaxed and authoritative.

“Not at all, sir. What’s up?” Beauvoir glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was 10:23 on a Saturday morning.

“There’s been a murder.”

It wasn’t, then, a casual call. An invitation to dinner. A query about staffing or a case going to trial. This was a call to arms. A call to action. A call that marked something dreadful had happened. And yet, for more than a decade now every time he heard those words, Beauvoir’s heart leapt. And raced. And even danced a little. Not with joy at the knowledge of a terrible and premature death. But knowing he and the Chief and others would be on the trail again.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir loved his job. But now, for the first time, he looked into the kitchen, and saw Annie standing in the doorway. Watching him.

And he realized, with surprise, that he now loved something more.

Grabbing his notebook he sat on Annie’s sofa and took down the details. When he finished he looked at what he’d written.

“Holy shit,” he whispered.

“At the very least,” agreed Chief Inspector Gamache. “Can you make arrangements, please? And just the two of us for now. We’ll pick up a local Sûreté agent when we arrive.”

“Inspector Lacoste? Should she come? Just to organize the Scene of Crime team and leave?”

Chief Inspector Gamache didn’t hesitate. “No.” He gave a small laugh. “We’re the Scene of Crime team, I’m afraid. Hope you remember how to do it.”

“I’ll bring the Hoover.”

“Bon. I’ve already packed my magnifying glass.” There was a pause and a more somber voice came down the line. “We need to get there quickly, Jean-Guy.”

“D’accord. I’ll make a few calls and pick you up in fifteen minutes.”

“Fifteen? All the way from downtown?”

Beauvoir felt the world stop for a moment. His small apartment was in downtown Montréal, but Annie’s was in the Plateau Mont Royal quartier, a few blocks from her parents’ home in Outremont. “It’s a Saturday. Not much traffic.”

Gamache laughed. “Since when did you become an optimist? I’ll be waiting, whenever you arrive.”

“I’ll hurry.”

And he did, placing calls, issuing orders, organizing. Then he threw a few clothes into an overnight bag.

“That’s a lot of underwear,” said Annie, sitting on the bed. “Are you planning to be gone long?” Her voice was light, but her manner wasn’t.

“Well, you know me,” he said, turning from her to slip his gun into its holder. She knew he had it, but didn’t like to actually see it. Even for a woman who cherished reality, this was far too real. “Without benefit of plunger I might need more tighty whities.”

She laughed, and he was glad.

At the door he stopped and lowered his case to the ground.

“Je t’aime,” he whispered into her ear, as he held her.

“Je t’aime,” she whispered into his ear. “Look after yourself,” she said, as they parted. And then, as he was halfway down the steps she called, “And please, look after my father.”

“I will. I promise.”

Once he was gone and she could no longer see the back of his car, Annie Gamache closed the door and held her hand to her chest.

She wondered if this was how her mother had felt, for all those years.

How her mother felt at that very moment. Was she too leaning against the door, having watched her heart leave? Having let it go.

Then Annie walked over to the bookcases lining her living room. After a few minutes she found what she was looking for. The bible her parents had given her, when she’d been baptized. For people who didn’t attend church, they still followed the rituals.

And she knew when she had children she’d want them baptized too. She and Jean-Guy would present them with their own white bibles, with their names and baptism dates inscribed.

She looked at the thick first page. Sure enough, there was her name. Anne Daphné Gamache. And a date. In her mother’s hand. But instead of a cross underneath her name her parents had drawn two little hearts.

Then Annie sat on the sofa and sipping the now cool café she flipped through the unfamiliar book until she found it.

Matthew 10:36.

“And a man’s foes,” she read out loud, “shall be they of his own household.”

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Copyright 2012 by Three Pines Creations, Inc.


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Reading Group Guide

The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time
 
 
No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”
 
But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of  prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    If I could rate this book 10 stars I would. When I finished the

    If I could rate this book 10 stars I would. When I finished the last
    page, all I could think was that I can’t wait for another year to see
    what happens with the story. When I first started reading the book and
    realized that it all takes place in a monastery with no Three Pines
    interaction, I wondered how the emotional pull in all of Ms. Penny’s
    books, would happen in this book. No worries on that score! Chief
    Inspector Armand Gamache and his second in command Jean-Guy Beauvior
    have been sent to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups to
    investigate the murder of one of the monks. The monastery is a closed
    one and the monks follow the vow of silence. Hundreds of years before
    the monks fled France and the Inquisition and had supposedly disappeared
    as an order. Two years prior to the murder, the monks had released a
    recording of them singing Gregorian chants and “blown their cover”.
    No-one is allowed into the monastery and the resultant fame from the
    recording has caused dissention among the monks. Gamache and Beauvior
    have to work through the stories of the men living in a closed
    environment and find the truth about the murder. The isolation of the
    location and the certainty that the murderer is one of the monks adds to
    the eeriness of the situation. The recurring theme of the book seems to
    me to be that the men who have come to live there regard it as their own
    slice of Eden. They live for love of their God and the music. They
    lead simple but fulfilled lives and the music recording meant to raise
    money for repairs and to maintain their way of life has actually
    introduced the serpent in the garden. Gamache and Beauvior find a group
    living in harmony with a common bond but they also find the cracks and
    need to find out what was the issue that led one of the monks to kill.
    There is also an overlapping theme about the nature of the chants and
    the history of written music as it relates to Gregorian chants that is
    quite interesting. Gamache and Beauvior have put the trauma of two years
    before behind them and are seemingly in a good place. Beauvior has
    become free of his addiction to pain killers and is secretly dating
    Gamache’s daughter Annie. He is happy with his life. Gamache still
    carries the physical and emotional scars from that time as well but he
    has made a sort of peace with it. The two men are forced to re-evaluate
    their feelings when their own personal serpent arrives at the monastery
    and begins to spread his poison. The ending of the book is heart
    wrenching and will leave the reader hungry for the next installment in
    the series. Ms. Penny does a wonderful job of putting the reader into
    the minds of the characters so that their hurts become our hurts and we
    really care about what happens next.

    19 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    The beautiful mystery is definitely that, a beautiful mystery.

    The beautiful mystery is definitely that, a beautiful mystery. 370 pages but enjoyed it all.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    The Mystery was OK. I would have liked more insight into the pe

    The Mystery was OK. I would have liked more insight into the perp's background and psyche. Hate the on-going conflict between Gamache, Beauvoir and the evil Chief Françoeur. Loved the first books. Not sure I'll buy another in this series unless it returns to Twin Pines.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Beautiful Mystery is the eighth entry in Louise Penny's Chie

    The Beautiful Mystery is the eighth entry in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. This series has become one of my favourites, but I have to say that this latest book is exceptional.

    The series is set in Canada. Gamache is with the Sûreté du Québec, as is his second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. In The Beautiful Mystery, Gamache and Beauvoir are called out on an unusual case and location. A monk at a monastery hidden away in the wilds of Québec has been murdered. The monastery has rebuffed visitors for the last four hundred years. There are only twenty four residents, all who live with a vow of silence - except when they are singing ancient Gregorian chants. Twenty three suspects.

    Penny has yet again devised an ingenious 'closed room' mystery that had me guessing until the last pages. The exploration of the monastic lifestyle and the chants were especially interesting. In her acknowledgments Penny says "I wanted to explore this beautiful mystery. How just a few notes can take us to a different time and place. Can conjure a person, an event, a feeling. Can inspire great courage, and reduce us to tears. And in the case of this book, I wanted to explore the power of ancient chants, Gregorian chants. On those who sing them, and those who hear them." The explanation of the effect of the music on the listener was compelling. I listened to the audio version of this book and the inclusion of chants at the beginning and end of the book prompted me to put holds on some Gregorian chant CDs at the library.

    But the real draw of Penny's books are the characters - especially Gamache. He is such a wise, intuitive, caring person. But he has faced his share of heartache - most notably with Beauvoir. A previous case has left both men physically and emotionally damaged. The healing has started, but has miles to go. A surprise appearance by Gamache's superior at the monastery complicates things further.
    And take Gamache to a very dark place. I become so invested and immersed in the characters that populate Penny's novels that they almost feel quite real. Gamache and Beavoir's complicated relationship and their attempts to continue moving forward despite the past make them all the more believable.

    Penny's storytelling is rich and varied, full of nuance and inflection. The pared down setting for this book was perfect, echoing the raw truths that are exposed. The ending has only left me hoping that Penny gives us more Gamache before too much time elapses.

    I chose to listen to this latest book and may well do so with all the Gamache books. There's always a worry that a narrator will not be the right fit for the mental image you've created for a character. Ralph Cosham was the reader for The Beautiful Mystery...and he was perfect. He has a rich, full bodied voice that is deep and sonorous, conveying the quiet strength of Gamache. The cadence, rhythm, pauses and more sound like actual conversation, not simply a reading of pages. The accent passes muster and is easily understood.

    Just an absolutely fantastic read/listen/series - highly recommended.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Dissappointed. I was waiting for this book to come out and coul

    Dissappointed. I was waiting for this book to come out and could not finish it. I like the Gamache character but the subject matter of the monastery turned me off. I have read all of Louise Penney books and loved them all. This one was not good for me.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    The Disappointing Mystery

    I loved Louise Penny’s earlier books in this series but found this one very disappointing. I am also tired of the internal conflict at the Surete dragging on and on. While much of the book’s discussion around the chants and music was interesting there wasn’t enough character or background development. You’ve got a monastery of 24 men living in isolation in a very remote part of Canada where a murder occurs and you don’t do a background check on these men to see who they were before they joined the monastery? These men obviously had some contact with the outside world but there was no discussion of how and when that happened. I suspect she was trying to write the mystery to resemble a chant – simple and without embellishment. But what works for a chant does not necessarily a good mystery read make.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Another fine read Another great read from louise penny

    Louise penny does it again with her latest the beautiful mystery
    Just like her past novels penny gives us rich complex characters that keep us interested in more then just a simple who done it

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Louise Penny's writing is superb as usual, but I missed the levi

    Louise Penny's writing is superb as usual, but I missed the levity of the Three Pines characters intertwined in this mystery. The philosophy and history of Gregorian Catholic Church Chants was very interesting, but tended to dominate the mystery more than I'd expected. So, while I enjoyed this latest mystery from Penny, I was disappointed also. Without revealing the ending, I also felt a little cheated , as it reminded me of endings of weekly soap operas. Still a four star read for many excellent reasons, but my disappointment kept me from continuing my 5 star rating as I'd rated all of Penny's earlier books. But still a fan, and looking forward to more of her Three Pines Mysteries.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Another winner in a wonderful series

    The richness of the writing let me feel the peace of the Gilbertines as well as the conflicts that threatened their very existence. The conflict within the Surete will having me waiting anxiously for the next entry in the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    I have read all of Louise Penney's books. This last,in my estima

    I have read all of Louise Penney's books. This last,in my estimation,is her absolute best. The Chant has for some had the ability to bring the listener a strong sense of peace. I have had the opportunity to visit the other Monastery , to which the author has referred and listened to the Chant by the Benedictine Monks there.
    Not everyone is drawn to this mysterious form of music. Beauvoir was not. It's history has been well researched by the author.
    I am looking forward to reading her next book. Some important issues have to be settled.
    Anne Shirley 2

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    One of her best!

    The Armand Gamache books have won many well deserved awards. Although all of the books in the series are well written.this one is extraordinary and closest to Still Life in its ability to engage, transport and even stun the reader. Like the music that plays such a key role in this novel, the writing lifts the reader far above the mundane mystery genre and into the realm of mankind's struggles with the questions of faith, love, truth and justice. Even as the reader soars with Gamache into musical/mystical ethers, he/she can taste the chocolate covered blueberries and see the monastery walls. This is oneof thebestof her novels not just in the prose,but in terms of getting into Gamache's mind and advancing the underlying plot of his battle with opponents within the Surete.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    This is a single beautiful mystery told in three melodic parts:

    This is a single beautiful mystery told in three melodic parts: how one brother could destroy another when they shared so much beauty in music and the sweet peace of their monastery; how incredibly delicate, and yet how strong, are the threads of love that bind us to the people and things we love; how the carefully crafted words of The Beautiful Mystery could so break my heart and make me feel such a sad yearning to not yet be parted from these very dear companions. Please Ms. Penny, bring them back to us soon.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    Review

    I don't understand how I can write a review when the book has not been released - maybe I'm missing something
    GinnyH08

    2 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2012

    Not published yet?

    Why am I asked to give a review on an unpublished book? I'm reasonably sure I will love it, once I read it. Louise Penny is an amazing author, and her books are fantastic.

    BUT . . . . this book does not come out until the end of August. Get back to me then.

    2 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Not my favorite Armand Gamache mystery.

    I found the location of the story to be dull and was very disappointed in the ending. Loved all the other Armand mysteries.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    Disappointed

    I have loved all of Louise Penny's previous books but was disappointed in this one. I realize not all murders can occur in Three Pines but just didn't like the setting for this one and just did not find it that interesting. I struggled to finish it and kept looking for the "good parts". Not the worst book I have ever read but certainly not her best work. Just my opinion of course.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    Wonderful descriptions of location. Gamache - what an amazing m

    Wonderful descriptions of location. Gamache - what an amazing man.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2012

    love, love Louise Penny & Armand Gamache! simple, transporti

    love, love Louise Penny & Armand Gamache!
    simple, transporting writing - this book in particular was good at communicating the sense of calm and conflict present in the monastery in which the book is set, as well as the calm and conflict within Inspector Gamache. hope she doesn't make us wait too long for the next book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    THis is the best book I have read this year. I dont want to give

    THis is the best book I have read this year. I dont want to give away any plot detail that might diminish another readers enjoyment so all I will say is if you have not ready any other Louise Penny books - start from the beginning. If you have - you dont need this review to tell you to read this one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2012

    I did not read

    I did not receive the book yet, but I believe it the book follows the other Armand Gamache series I'm sure that it ia good

    1 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews

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