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Book Review

‘The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel’


 By Louise Penny
Minotaur Books
Aug. 28, 2012
$ 25.99
384 Pages


“The Beautiful Mystery” is the eighth in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. It was eagerly anticipated by Louise Penny fans, and a customer’s excitement convinced me to try this book. In this case, it proves the adage “The customer is always right.”

The location is Quebec with its mix of English and French languages. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, both of the Quebec Surete, are called into the wilderness to the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups monastery. There the choir director responsible for the abbey’s famous recording of Gregorian chants has been murdered in the abbot’s private garden. The seclusion of the abbey means that there are exactly 24 suspects — the monks of the abbey. As Gamache and Beauvoir continue their investigation, the existence of a division in the monastery becomes clear.                

There are two major mysteries — the mystery of the murder and the mystery of the chants and their origins. During the investigation, Gamache and Beauvoir become acquainted with the monks and are schooled in their way of life that is centered on the ancient Gregorian music found in their Book of Chants. A recording of their chants brought money to the abbey, money badly needed to repair the crumbling structure. However, the prospect of a second recording and tour has divided the monks, and the motive for the murder becomes clear. The appearance of the chief inspector’s boss and a Dominican monk from Rome add to the story.               

The two mysteries are solved by the end, however personal developments over the two days of the investigation result in significant changes to the lives of Gamache and Beauvoir, which I look forward to following in the next book in the series. CV

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