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.
About the Author
LOUISE PENNY is the New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of seven previous novels featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Her debut, Still Life, won the John Creasey Dagger and the Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys Awards, and was named one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine. Penny was the first author ever to win the Agatha Award for Best Novel four times in a row—for A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, and The Brutal Telling (which also received the Anthony Award for Best Novel), and Bury Your Dead (which also won the Dilys, Arthur Ellis, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero Awards). She lives in a small village south of Montréal.
Read an Excerpt
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“And a man’s foes,” she read out loud, “shall be they of his own household.”
Copyright © 2012 by Three Pines Creations, Inc
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.
1. What does "the beautiful mystery" of the title refer to? What are the powers and/or limitations of music throughout the novel?
2. As we get to know the inner workings of the monastery, how do you come to regard the community of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups and the individuals who choose to devote their lives to it?
3. To solve the crime Gamache needs "to think about the Divine, the human, and the cracks in between." How do all of these qualities manifest themselves in the story?
4. What do you see as Gamache's greatest strengths as a detective and as a man? Does he also have weaknesses?
5. How do you view Jean-Guy Beauvoir throughout the book? What do you think will become of him?
6. Because the monastery is so cut off from most methods of communication, text messages take on unusual importance for Gamache and Beauvoir. How does Louise Penny use them to convey the tone of real-world relationships?
7. What do you make of Francoeur's fierce hatred for Gamache? What does the novel tell us about good and evil, and is the distinction between them always clear? For example, see page 318, where Gamache sits through the service in the Blessed Chapel amid "peace and rage, silence and singing. The Gilbertines and the Inquisition. The good men and the not-so-good."
8. The abbot tells Gamache, "That's the difference between us, Chief Inspector. You need proof in your line of work. I don't." What role does faith play for various characters in the novel?
9. At one point Gamache finds himself wondering if the abbot's private garden "existed on different planes. It was both a place of grass and earth and flowers. But also an allegory. For that most private place inside each one of them. For some it was a dark, locked room. For others, a garden." How might that allegory apply to particular characters in The Beautiful Mystery?
10. When Gamache quotes the line from Murder in the Cathedral, "Some malady is coming upon us," Frère Sébastien replies, "Modern times. That's what came upon the Gilbertines." Do you feel that the monks could or should have remained in isolation from the outside world forever?
11. How is THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY similar to/different from the books set in Three Pines?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
The beautiful mystery is definitely that, a beautiful mystery. 370 pages but enjoyed it all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
The setting is at a remote monastery where a monk has been killed. How can a murder happen in a monastary where monks sing beautiful plain chants that can move the listener to another sphere. Inspector Gamache will find that these monks are all too human despite their religious vows. He and Inspector Beauvoir will find more than the murderer on this journey that even threatens their personal and professional relationships. This a great read!!!
Another great Gamache adventure although no mention or visit to Three Pines. Sad. ~*~LEB~*~
More than a mystery. An immersive experience. Could not put it down. Moves along the father-son relationship of Gamache & Beauvoir. The descriptions of the remote walled monestery and the sublime Gregorian chants are extraordinary. The characters are well defined and all interesting. Multiple conflicts and the author's depictions of many points of view. Recommend beginning at the start of the series and reading straight through to get the full impact. Thanks Louise Penny for another great literary mystery with both humor and gravity, the everyday and the exotic intertwined.
i ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK. ALL OF THIS SERIES BOOKS ARE GOOD, BUT THIS WAS EXCEPTIONAL.
While immersed in the plot of this unique mystery set in a reclusive monastery, you are simultaneously caught up in the previous mystery of corruption within the police department, as well as, the development of character relationships. Each storyline excels. You need to read this.
I found the location of the story to be dull and was very disappointed in the ending. Loved all the other Armand mysteries.
I have loved all of the novels in this series so far, and have strong feelings about the characters. My only observation on this one is the huge cliff hanger. In the past , the stories were able to stand alone with a tendril of connection to the last and next. Very frustrating.
This is an exceptional novel by an exceptional author. A monk is murdered in a remote monastery hidden deep in the woods of Quebec, Canada. How does one uncover a murderer from among two dozen cloistered monks who are under a vow of silence? Their only communication with the outside world is through the singing of centuries old Gregorian chants. These chants are often referred to as the words of God in the voice of God. It is up to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his assistant, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir to peel back the layers of secrecy that surround this order of monks. They have remained hidden not only from the prying eyes of the public, but also from the eyes of the Church of Rome. Gamache must unmask secrets he has bottled up inside for years as well as the secrets of the murderer and the monastery. The plain chants of the monastery will indeed reveal The Beautiful Mystery. Louise Penny never fails to amaze us with the depth of her understanding of the human condition and her ability to convey these feelings to the reader. This book is like a good song that brings beautiful images to your mind and peace to your soul. Book provided for review by Amazon Vine and the well read folks at Minotaur Books.
Chief Inspector Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir arrive at Quebec¿s Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups monastery to investigate the murder of the choir director. In this secluded monastery made famous by their Gregorian chant they find a division among the monks along with the threat of division among themselves. Though the vow of silence has been lifted for the purpose of the investigation some of the monks are reluctant to share what they know making progress frustratingly slow but the arrival of unwelcome guests may be the tools Chief Inspector Gamache needs to get to the bottom of two very different mysteries.I have not read the prior Inspector Gamache novels but now I know they will be added to my must read list. From the start I was hooked to this mystery. It slowed down a little for me in the middle but picked back up soon after. The slowdown is my only complaint but since it didn¿t last long it¿s not much of a setback. This one kept me guessing and kept me anxious to turn the next page. I fell in love with the characters (even some of the minor characters) and the plot. I thought that their being so many characters it would get stuffy and confusing but to my relief it all flowed well. I absolutely recommend this one, especially to mystery lovers who like to be kept on their toes.
She's done it again! In my opinion, it is difficult to find a better writer of mysteries in the current market than Louise Penny. I was so fortunate to be the winner of an early giveaway from a contest sponsored on her monthly newsletter earlier this spring. Those of us who have been following her Chief Inspector Gamache series are not going to be disappointed by this one. It is different. It is not set in Three Pines. The normal cast of characters is missing. Instead we are presented with Armand Gamache, his deputy and beloved friend Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his arch enemy Superintendent Sylvain Françoeur, and a group of contemplative monks who have chosen to sequester themselves in the wilderness far north of Quebec. The monks, who have taken a vow of silence, use their voices only in the singing of plainchant, the earliest form of Gregorian chant. They have become world famous for the beauty and glory of their singing.Suddenly however, the prior (who is also the choirmaster) is found murdered, and the monks must admit outsiders to their world, shattering their silence, their peace and their isolation. As Gamache and Beauvoir slowly, calmly, and quietly begin the difficult process of determining which of the brothers is in fact a murderer, they must also confront their own demons, particularly the residual effects of the disastrous raid and hostage situation from previous books in the series. The soothing cadences of the chant don't always work enough magic to keep the pain of the past from surfacing.Penny's strength is in her characters. By now, if you've read all the book in the series, you feel that you know Armand Gamache almost as well as he knows himself. But she can still add more to this deeply introspective and compassionate officer. His protégé Jean-Guy's character is still evolving and not always in the direction we might want. Penny shines in her ability to portray the depth of emotions and feelings of her characters, allowing them to expand as the story does. She is not afraid to allow them to be flawed. While the strength is in the characters, the beauty is in the setting, with its quiet, its secrets, its history, and its mysteries. The murder mystery itself, of the classic closed room genre, is brilliant. Everyone is a suspect. There are only a few pieces of physical evidence, the setting is self-contained and virtually impregnable, and Gamache must help the brothers to accept the fact that one among them is a killer. Finally, there's the music! It is the story itself, and the characters, the setting, the plot provide the backdrop for the story of the music, truly a "Beautiful Mystery." Even if you haven't read any of the previous books in the series, this one is written with just enough back fill to make it almost a stand alone.