|Release date: August 28, 2012|
If you enjoy mystery novels full of well-rounded characters and plots that have no need to beat you over the head, Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series is probably up your alley (or at the very least should be on your 'to read' list). Penny is a thoughtful and insightful writer. She infuses her books with wit and a mature intelligence that avoids easy answers or tired old sarcasm (well, except for the character of Ruth who is in a class of sarcasm all her own). There's also real awareness of and compassion for the pain of life, a compassion that doesn't drift off into sugary sweetness.
For years my friend Missy told me about this series. I kept it in the back of my mind, but didn't get around to picking up the first book in the series, Still Life, until June of last year. Once I started reading the Gamache series, I couldn't stop. I briefly thought about stringing out my reading pleasure over a year or two, but then threw caution to the wind and gobbled-up all seven books between June and December. I am now rather shocked to find that I only blogged about the first book. Apparently I was focused on the reading. I also had the pleasure of meeting Louise Penny when she was at The Book Stall for a signing last September. You can read the event recap here. I hope she comes to the Chicago area again for the release of The Beautiful Mystery.
So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan and receive Penny's monthly newsletter. In her April newsletter Penny shared the cover art for the eighth Inspector Gamache novel, The Beautiful Mystery. About the cover and the book Penny writes,
I adore this cover for THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Among the things I love are the soft light, the dark corners, the deep forest and the sense of duality. The forest, I find, is both inviting and natural, and foreboding.
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is set in a remote Quebec monastery, where the monks have taken vows of silence, but sing their prayers, in the form of ancient Gregorian chants. In fact, so glorious are their voices that these cloistered monks have become world famous. But the thick walls and heavy door have remained closed to the outside world. Until one of the monks is murdered, and Chief Inspector Gamache comes calling. He will be the first ‘outsider’ in centuries to see the monastery, and hear the monks sing. But he knows that within this contemplative order, one of the brothers has been contemplating murder. And then committed it. Intertwined in the murder is the music. Chants so astonishing in their simplicity, in their power to move, that they’ve become known as ‘the beautiful mystery’. Gamache realizes that to solve one mystery, he must solve the other.
Here are the Chief Inspector Gamache books in chronological order:
- Still Life, 2005
- A Fatal Grace (US title) / Dead Cold, 2007
- The Cruelest Month, 2008
- A Rule Against Murder (US title) / The Murder Stone, 2009
- The Brutal Telling, 2009
- Bury Your Dead, 2010
- A Trick of Light, 2011
- The Beautiful Mystery, forth coming August 28, 2012