Book Review: "The Beautiful Mystery" by Louise Penny
A thread of conspiracy and intrique is building slowly throughout the series, forcing the characters to choose whom they will stand beside when the final confrontation occurs. Penny also has added a more human (and humorous) element to her books by splitting the action between Montreal and an idyllic rural community where the residents seem to have a penchant for murder.
The latest in the series, "The Beautiful Mystery", leaves big city and small town behind for an even more remote setting, the abbey of Saint-Gilbert-Entreles-Loups (St. Gilbert Among the Wolves). In this one, Gamache and his loyal agent, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, must discover who killed one of only 24 monks. But this is no run of the mill monestery: It's pretty much a lost sect that fled the Inquisition and, despite vows of silence, worships in beautiful plain-chant. No one would have known they existed but for a recording of their Gregorian chants becoming a runaway bestseller. Unfortunately, the monk killed was the music director, who was responsible for bringing "The Voice of God" to the masses.
While the mystery is just as intricate and intriguing as always, I think the real draw is Penny's characters. The monks are realistic and well written, while Gamache wrestles with upholding the letter of the law and doing what is right. His compassion for the men and women in command plays a huge part in his actions and adds humor and warmth to the story.
If you've read any of the other Inspector Gamache books, you will want to read this one. And if not, it would be a great place to start.
-- Review by Gena Fisher, Belt Branch reference assistant