In a northern region of the province of Quebec, twenty-four monks belonging to a very obscure Catholic order, live a cloistered existence practicing the rule of silence for most of their day. This is a very unlikely setting for a murder mystery. Yet, this setting becomes a major character in Louise Penny’s newest novel “The Beautiful Mystery.”
For a very long time, the monks of this abbey were known by very few. Then out of necessity, they recorded their music—Gregorian chants. Chanting is the element that brings this diverse group of men together. It is through singing that they become closer to God. Every aspect of their lives revolves around their music. The fame and popularity that resulted from the recording was something that most of them were uncomfortable with. When the possibility of a second recording is discussed, the abbey becomes divided.
The prior who was most instrumental in organizing the recording is the murder victim. All twenty-third of his fellow monks become, at one time or other, possible candidates for the murderer.
Chief Inspector Adam Gamache of the Surete du Quebec and his assistant Jean Guy Beauvoir are sent to investigate. What results, in the capable hands of Penny, is a suspenseful mystery filled with twists and turns. Added to this is the subplot that Penny continues to deal with involving a previous case that Gamache and Beauvoir were involved with.
Pam got me interested in this series and this is my third Penny novel. The author has created characters and plots that are involved but logical. If you are interested in reading one of her stories, I suggest you start with an older title. It will help you to understand the politics of the police force and the tremendous burdens that each of the main characters deals with each day.