Ron Arden's Reviews > The Beautiful Mystery

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
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's review
Sep 10, 2012

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Read from September 06 to 08, 2012

This was not one of my favorite Inspector Gamache books, but I did like the middle; let me explain. The book focuses on Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir and has none of the characters from Three Pines. The story takes place in a monastery that is literally in the middle of nowhere. This is a monastery of Gilbertine monks who were thought to have died out centuries ago. The beginning of the book is very slow to the point of almost being boring. I felt as if I was walking through pudding for the first 75 or so pages. Then it picked up.

I understand Louise Penny's thoughts. She was moving the story at the pace of the monastery - slow and deliberate. As the police enter this quiet place, things change for them and the monks. The monks as first seem all alike. They are contemplative, quiet men who go about their business of praying, chanting and working. As the story progresses, the monks personalities are revealed to be anything but quiet automatons. This is where the book picks up. As Gamache and Beauvoir begin investigating, the monastery turns out to be just like any other institution with humans. There is backstabbing, power struggles, choosing sides, pettiness and jealousy.

The backdrop is also austere and the setting for a major confrontation between Gamache and Beauvoir. Jean-Guy is still suffering from the problems of when he almost died, a few books ago. He sought counseling and is off the addictive pain killers. He thinks he is cured, but only needs a little push from Chief Superintendent Francoeur to go back to hating Gamache. The setting for this is the world of the monastery which is a bare, unadorned place. It's just them and this barren place.

The murder and its resolution almost seem secondary to the confrontation and relationship of Gamache and Beauvoir. Yes, they catch the murderer, but I almost didn't care. It was not that interesting anymore and I guessed the culprit.

I didn't like the ending, even though it is realistic. The jerks won, at least temporarily, and things are left in a very messy state. I don't need a story wrapped up in a neat bow, but I didn't like this ending. Of course it sets the stage for the next book, which I will read.

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