The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
This is the eighth mystery novel in the award-winning series featuring Chief Inspector Armande Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir of Québec’s Sûreté. Both wounded two mysteries ago, their formerly close relationship is now more complicated, especially as Beauvoir is secretly dating Gamache’s daughter Maggie. In The Beautiful Mystery, which refers to music, they travel to an isolated monastery where the prior has been killed. When I read that Gamache would be travelling to a monastery, I pictured him on a peaceful retreat. Having read Louise Penny’s other mysteries, I should have known better. The prior, Frere Mathieu, was also the choirmaster, and the monastery had recently released a recording of the monastery’s Gregorian chants that became a surprise hit. While isolated, the two dozen monks have been recruited by the abbot, Dom Philippe, from other monasteries and seminaries for their singing voices as well as for practical skills needed at the self-sufficient monastery. Now, all the monks are suspects in the prior’s murder. Gamache and even the cynical Beauvoir are stunned by the beauty of the monks’ singing. But then Gamache’s adversarial boss shows up, and Beauvoir finds out that he’s not fully recovered from the trauma of his old injuries. The setting is beautifully drawn, and the mystery is rather clever, but the draw of this series has always been the characters’ relationships and struggles. The first book in the series is Still Life, which is being filmed for Canadian television. For more about the series and gorgeous photos of Quebec, visit the author’s website.