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The brilliant new novel in the "New York Times" bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time

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.  Read more...


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The brilliant new novel in the "New York Times" bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time

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 Surete du Quebec. 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.

"The Beautiful Mystery" is the winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for best novel, the 2013 Anthony Award for best novel and the 2013 Macavity Award for best novel."

  • ISBN-13: 9780312655464
  • ISBN-10: 0312655460
  • Publish Date: August 2012

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-06-18
  • Reviewer: Staff

Religious music serves as the backdrop for bestseller Penny’s excellent eighth novel featuring Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté (after 2011’s A Trick of the Light). Gamache and his loyal number two, Insp. Jean-Guy Beauvoir, travel to the isolated monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, which produced a CD of Gregorian chants that became a surprise smash hit, to investigate the murder of its choirmaster, Frère Mathieu, found within an enclosed garden in a fetal position with his head bashed in. Gamache soon finds serious divisions among the outwardly unified and placid monks, and begins to encourage confidences among them as a first step to catching the killer. Traditional mystery fans can look forward to a captivating whodunit plot, a clever fair-play clue concealed in plain view, and the deft use of humor to lighten the story’s dark patches. On a deeper level, the crime provides a means for Penny’s unusually empathic, all-too-fallible lead to unearth truths about human passions and weaknesses while avoiding simple answers. 150,000 first printing; author tour. Agent: Patty Moosbrugger, Teresa Chris Literary Agency. (Aug.)

BookPage Reviews

When football meets murder

With an impressive eight books to his credit in as many years, Michael Koryta once again wows readers with The Prophet, a tale of football and murder in a small Midwestern town. Brothers Kent and Adam Austin have followed wildly disparate paths since the abduction and murder of their beloved sister many years before. Adam has become a bail bondsman, haunting the fringes of the criminal element of Chambers, Ohio. Kent, by contrast, has grown deeply religious; he is something of a town hero as well, as the high-school football team he coaches seems poised to win the state championship. Then the sweetheart of the team’s star receiver is found strangled to death, and all hell breaks loose in the usually peaceful town. Worse, the murder bears marked resemblances to the killing of Kent and Adam’s sister all those years ago, stirring up ghosts neither brother is prepared to deal with. Already optioned for a feature film, The Prophet is one of the year’s best mysteries.

Copenhagen cold case investigator Carl M⌀rck, who made his debut in Jussi Adler-Olsen’s 2011 novel, The Keeper of Lost Causes, once again takes on a cold—make that frigid—case in The Absent One. The case involves the killing of a brother and sister some 20 years before, a case in which the prime suspects were the progeny of some of Denmark’s most prestigious families, all classmates in a high-dollar (er, kroner) boarding school. Most of said suspects went on to become contemporary Danish movers and shakers. One, a “poor ­relation,” went to jail for the murders. And one, Kimmie—who knows that the convicted murderer was nothing more than a paid scapegoat for his wealthy friends—is living on the streets, furtively plotting her revenge on the band of sociopathic socialites. Somehow, M⌀rck will have to find a way to bring the miscreants to justice before Kimmie has the opportunity to administer her altogether more Old Testament style of retribution. Scandinavian suspense fiction is just about the best thing going nowadays, and Adler-Olsen is well toward the front of the pack.

Historical mysteries are not usually my thing, although I’ve made happy exceptions for Umberto Eco and Ross King (to name a couple). Now I will be adding Michael Ennis to my must-read list, thanks to his absorbing page-turner of 16th-century Italy, The Malice of Fortune. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to throw Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci together into a Renaissance investigation of serial murder, but Ennis has done just that. Populating the landscape with a plethora of real-life characters, the author has woven a tale of intrigue based on the well-documented slaying of the heir presumptive to the Borgia mantle. As Ennis notes in the intro: “All of the major characters are historical figures, and all of them do exactly what the archival evidence tells us they did, exactly where and when they did it. What history fails to tell us is how and why they did it. And thereby hangs a tale . . .” And what a tale it is, replete with byzantine machinations and subterfuge, a fair bit of bloodletting and something of a love story as well. What’s not to like?

Very little will break the monks’ vow of silence at Saint Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, a remote Quebec monastery dedicated to Gregorian chant. But one thing has: murder. In the garden of the abbot lies the choir director, his skull bashed in. Improbable though it may seem, one of the two dozen monks must be the killer. As Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery opens, Chief Inspector Gamache is summoned to look into the homicide with right-hand man Jean-Guy Beauvoir. It doesn’t take the canny pair long to realize that all is not harmonious inside the walls of Saint Gilbert. Indeed, there is a schism that has divided the monks: those who support the abbot and want to keep the monastery as it has been for hundreds of years, and those who supported the choir director, who wanted to make a high-tech recording of Gregorian chant, thereby drawing the order into the 21st century. Gamache and Beauvoir play off one another brilliantly, offering a stirring point/counterpoint with regard to the spiritual and secular issues that have become such an element of modern life. In the process, they do a damn fine job of solving mysteries.

BAM Customer Reviews