Audie Award Nominee, Mystery, 2013
The brilliant new novel in the New York Times best-selling 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.
©2012 Three Pines Creations, Inc. (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
Great setting in a monastery, more frustration with inspector Beauvoir's problems since the attack on the unit. Wonderful descriptions of the monks and their services. Overall a very satisfying mystery and an excellent narrator, as usual.
I've not missed a single book by Penny and have enjoyed every word - well, almost. The only thing that didn't seem well crafted was the conspiracy and corruption at "the highest levels" in a previous book. And, of course, what does she return to in this could have been brilliant story? You've got it. The setting and characters here are delightful. The story line is, if not unique, nearly so. But instead of flushing out these possibilities, she falls back into the old police corruption surrounding Gamache. Such a waste - I'm writing this instead of finishing what promised to be a great read (listen).
Another great Louise Penny, she is a great wordsmith and keeps you on the edge of your seat with her plots. Only thing I didn't like was the hanging ending, usually she gives you a clear ending but this time she catches you and makes you yearn for the next book in the series. Miss Penny has the ability to make you feel like the characters are real and you become invested in their lives.
One of the only of the Gamache series that wasn't located in Three Pines. Gamache is the still water that runs deep, but serenely. Here we see more of the strife that challenges his famous serenity. I began the series by thinking the narrator too soft spoken and monotonous; but, rather, he is the voice and mind of Gamache. I slightly missed Three Pines as it was replaced by a monastery in this book, but it was masterful, nevertheless.
I really enjoy this series. They are not exactly "cosy" mysteries, but they are not too gross or graphic. I like the characters, so this book was a revelation in what Louise Penny decided to do with the main ones. The setting in the abbey brought out things in the two main police inspectors that surprised me, but weren't out of character. It actually is something of a cliff hanger as I cannot wait to see if problems are resolved, or relationships torn apart forever. Ralph Cosham is just right as a narrator for this series; he knows how to pronounce the French place names and phrases, and keeps me interested in all that happens.
The Gamache series is famous for murders that take place in the "closed room" of Three Pines, but this time Gamache and Beauvoir are taken to the closed society of an Abbey, where the community focus on the sacred chants unites the brotherhood, yet also triggers the very human tendencies to either embrace or stridently resist changes, and develop individual versions of truth. It's a timely theme in our world where religious views so strongly affect world politics, and the many versions of truth are victims of so much human interpretive error.
Readers who have kept up with the series will start out pleased that the passage of time between this and the last book have been kind to Jean Guy; but this book also explores how fragile the peace of mind of an addict can be, and just how difficult it can be to find a way to love the person while dealing with the ravages of the addiction; sometimes, there is no right way to do that, and this aspect of the greater storyline will leave some of us holding our breath waiting for book 9.
Gamache's professional nemesis plays a big part in this book, and takes Gamache through the difficulty of being a truly moral man who must reject actions that would seem obvious to solve a problem once and for all if he is to remain moral. The story seethes with envy, distrust, cruel emotional manipulation, and reminds us that the weakness of any community or organization lies not in the structure itself, but in the individuals who make it up. Of all the Gamache books, this one left me angry at the end rather than hopeful at first, but definitely left me thinking....and holding my breath for the next book.
I think a major ingredient of what makes Louise Penny's book so wonderful to read is the personalities of Three Pines. They are complex, and we know them.This book didn't have that going for it. I would recommend any of the earlier books before this one. I hope the next one, and yes, I will definitely read it, is back in Three Pines!
Ralph Cosham is an excellent narrator and his comfort with the pronunciations of French Canadian phrases definitely polishes the listening experience.
I highly recommend this series and recommend going through the books in order. The plot lines just get better and better as you get more familiar with the characters. There are threads which weave through and connect the novels. You get very caught up in care and concern about the recurring characters, but each book brings fresh dimensions.
I choose to listen to the Gamache books, narrated by Cosham, rather than reading them myself because he is so very excellent in smoothly transitioning from one character to another. There is enough differentiation for clarity, but he never overacts. Great pronunciation of the French Canadian terms and idioms.
The ending! Don't want to spoil it for others by describing it.
Will try to be patient as I wait for the next in the series. Will do the audiobook version if Cosham is the narrator.
The Dog Mom
I begin this review by noting I am a HUGE Louise Penny fan - and I do mean HUGE. I have recommended her to many of my friends and none have been disappointed. I am half way through The Beautiful Mystery and feel this sense of real disappointment. Perhaps it's because I miss the wonderful residents/characters of Twin Pines or perhaps I'm just an old dog who can't learn new tricks or simply doesn't like change. This said, I long for another mystery set in her wonderful, sweet, and unique town of Twin Pines. While this new book is beautifully written (of course, Penny is, after all, a fabulous writer), it just does nothing for me, other than learning new things about Gregorian chants, which I admit are interesting. Ralph Cosham continues to apply his magnificent voice as the narrator and once again, does a masterful job. But, sadly, it never really came to life for me. I will continue to listen to the book, but it's sadly a task to be checked off my 'to do' list rather than a luxury to be enjoyed the way Penny's other books were. I implore Ms. Penny to take us back to Twin Pines and soon!
Return to her previous venue for her mysteries.
He is a gifted reader/narrator as always.
Yes, to listen to the joy of a brilliantly written book. No, in terms of the story.
I will continue to read Ms. Penny's books.
I love Louise Penny's work and Inspector Gamache, but this is the best ever. You are taken away into the deep north of Quebec to a monastery where a murder has happened in a place dedicated to holy religious music. Dualities ensue: the ancient religious world meets the modern world, good cop vs. bad cop, love vs. addiction, secular vs. sacred. The atmosphere is haunting and beautiful, the human drama engrossing, and the end leaves the reader wishing the next book was out right now. I couldn't put it down. The best of Gamache and crew. I like the audio because I can listen to the book while I walk my dogs for an hour or so and I like to imagine the scenes in my mind. Reading is not as portable for me.
Kept me totally interested because I learned more about a music I love, a church I know nothing about, and the relationships were all "hot".
I think he has the kind of voice I imagine Gamache to have.
The best Penny has done. I'd like to know what is behind her writing it -- where did this one come from.
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