Book Review: The Beautiful Mystery is truly a beautiful mystery.

Briony L.

Book Reviews

The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny, was a fantastic novel. It is a story about the two-
dozen monks who live in isolation inside the Monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups.
The Monastery was undiscovered by the public until 3 years prior when they released a CD of
their Gregorian chants. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his partner Inspector Jean-Guy
Beauvoir from the Sûreté du Québec are the first outsiders in history to be allowed into Saint-
Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups. Chief Gamache and Inspecteur Beauvoir were invited to investigate
the murder of the respected and acclaimed choir director, a murder that could only be
committed by one of 23 monks left in the monastery.

Louis Penny’s writing style is very atmospheric; when you are reading you feel as though you
are standing next to Gamache investigating the scene of the crime. Personally, when I read
books I tend to get bored or distracted fairly easily. Despite the multiple subplots and extra
information in the novel, instead of boring me, it actually added to the story. One of the things
that made this book so enjoyable was that the setting was very unique and unconventional.
There was an intimacy to the book because of where the novel took place. This allowed a
deeper exploration of the characters. Penny was able to write a modern murder mystery but in
a fashion similar to an Agatha Christie novel.

My favourite part of this book was the characters. Oftentimes, in mystery books, characters
can lack dimension. Penny described the characters in such a way that as you continue
reading the book you uncover more layers. She is able to write about characters grappling
with addiction and PTSD whilst maintaining elegance and grace. The Beautiful Mystery is
part of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, so the characters’ individual storylines
continue after the book ends. Be prepared to read the whole series after this!

When reading the book it is evident that Louise Penny did a lot of research for this book.
Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups is actually a real monastery in Quebec, though it is not the
exact same as in the book, it is a real place. At times, I enjoyed pausing my reading of the
book to do some research on the monastery because of where fact meets fiction in the book is
so obscure.

Louise Penny is able to convey fear, pain, heartbreak, and serenity in the pages. Anyone who
enjoys reading an Agatha Christie book would enjoy this on. It is a slower book that will keep
you engaged until the last page. The Beautiful Mystery is truly a beautiful mystery.