The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2013

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.

Review –

This is the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series where a murder occurred elsewhere than Three Pines. The villagers of Three Pines played no part in this story what so ever. 

I liked that we were taken inside the monastery of Saint Gilbert -Entre-les-Loups and shown hidden rooms and secret gardens. The characters of the twenty-four monks came to life in their daily prayers and chores.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir was there to help the Chief Inspector and we find out that he and Annie, the Chief Inspector’s daughter, have been dating for the last three months but keeping it a secret. He is also off the pain pills and I was so relieved to read that. Jean-Guy is a great character and I hate to see the person he becomes when he’s popping pills.

A day or so into the investigation, the Chief Inspector’s boss (who is a real a**hole and hates Gamache) shows up at the very remote monastery saying that’s he wants to help. HA! He is there to mind f**k Beauvoir and see what he can find out about Gamache that can be used to take him down.

Unbeknownst to Jean-Guy he plays right into his hands and is tricked into taking Oxycontin  and almost overdose and Gamache has to take his gun and badge away  and suspends him because he is argumentative and refuses to go to rehab when they get back to Montreal. The Chief Superintendent overrides Gamache and returns the gun and badge to Jean-Guy and they leave together. I hated when that happened because Jean -Guy, in his condition, can’t see that he is being horribly manipulated. He has turned his back on his friendship with Gamache and that’s the worse thing he could do.

We find out the killer of the monk near the end of the story and it wasn’t who I thought it was so that was good, because I really hated predictable story lines.

I love this series and have started number nine and by the blurb I can see that things are going to get a lot worse for the Chief Inspector before they get better.

Five stars *****

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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: May 1, 2007

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with power, ingenuity, and charm.

Review- 

 I stumbled upon this series one day when the most recent book was offered as a choice of the day on one site that I follow. It sounded like something I’d like but I thought maybe I should start at the beginning of the series so I did.

The village of Three Pines  in Quebec is the  quaint picturesque  home to people who have been there for generators as well as newcomers. There is a Commons area, a small business district and shop keepers, bakers,bistro owners and a B&B that serves brunch.

Jane Neal was an elderly retired school teacher who hadn’t an enemy in the world, or so everyone in the village thought. She was a warm generous person who also liked to paint (like an artist) but had never shown anyone her work until one day when she decided to enter one painting into a competition. At first everyone thought is was horrible and childish but the more they  studied it the more they came to like it.  Any way long story short, it’s because of this painting that she is killed, although we don’t know that at first.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is in his mid 50’s. Married to Reine-Marie Gamache. They have a daughter named Annie and a son named Daniel. He is  called in from Montreal and with help from the towns people the mystery is solved. He has a reputation for being kind and always doing the right thing and it’s that very fact that hurt his career the most. We don’t know the whole story but we know that he will go no higher in rank because of a past case. His co-workers, for the most part, idolize him.

I truly loved this story and it’s characters and I was blessed to have the audio version so I didn’t have to stumble across all the French names. The narrator does a fantastic job and I can’t wait to chase down the next book in the series.

If you can’t find an audio version and read a print or e-book form, there is a pronunciation guide that can be found at http://www.louisepenny.com/

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