Review: THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY by Louise Penny

The Beautiful MysteryThe Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Gamache series 8) by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books Mystery

Another piece of extraordinary fiction from Louise Penny with the addition of interesting history about Gregorian and Cistercian chants and monastic life finds the erstwhile Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir inside the isolated monastery in Quebec, Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, to solve a murder. The twenty-four monks cloistered at the monastery have taken a vow of silence, but their chants have reached the outside world and the murdered monk had plans to sell recordings of their work to raise money for repairs at the ancient crumbling monastery.

Penny’s books are always a joy to read, offering opportunities to get the gray cells to synapse and discover who committed the crime while incorporating a tenderness and introspection that is melodramatic. While this book does not evolve around the residents of Three Pines, she deftly introduces an interesting and intriguing slate of characters and exposes the frailties of Gamache and Beauvoir, issues which are explored in later books—many reviewed by me in this publication.

The setting is a pivotal part in the novel, a character within itself with the beauty and discipline within the monastery pacing the story. Juxtaposing the raw, wild magnificence of the water and woods surrounding the man-made beauty, readers, inspectors, and monks alike are consistently aware of the unknown and shockingly violent. Penny opens the door to the lives of those who choose a monastic lifestyle, always a source of curiosity and assumption to outsiders. She articulates age-old ruminations of man and deftly addresses the isolation within all people, exploring the contemplative and frailty in all humans.

Review provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the July 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

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