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December 07, 2013

Book Review - The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

Another thought provoking, layered mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. His life experience has led him to develop a great understanding of and compassion for human frailty. This time, he and his offsider, Inspector Beauvoir, are still recovering from a difficult police operation where fellow officers were killed, when they are unexpectedly placed into an isolated monastery to investigate the murder of one of the monks. The monastery is famous for Gregorian chants and although a small house of 24 monks, they have been a destination of choice for monks with a passion for divine music and an ability to harmonise. Someone has broken this harmony and murdered the choir director. Gamache is used to reading people and is disconcerted by the ease with which the monks read him. Living as they do under the rule of silence, they have become expert at shielding and reading unspoken emotion. The investigation proceeds slowly but is accelerated by the arrival of a Dominican monk from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at Vatican (otherwise and previously known as the Inquisition); and Gamache's superior officer, a man he neither likes or trusts. Unless they can uncover the divisions that culminated in this brutal death, they will not solve the mystery. Beauvoir struggles with the isolation, finding it hard to empathise with the monks' vocation and choices. Gamache finds solace in the divine music but he will need all his formidable skill to solve this one. Classic murder mysteries provide a closed community and a reason for the outside world to be at a distance until the murder is solved; this setting in a remote Canadian wilderness provides all the classic elements in a modern and thoroughly entrancing read. Highly recommended. Wendy

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