The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A monk is found murdered in a secret garden of a secluded abbey. Throw in the history of Gregorian chants, memories of the Inquisition, an association with Thomas a Becket, a hidden treasure and a Native legend, and you have the ingredients for this story.
What I love most about Louise Penny's Inspector Gamanche novels is how she interweaves an aspect of fascinating history into the modern-day plot line. We learn about the mythological Gilbertine monks and the pursuit of God-seeking music, as well as drug addiction.
There's a gentleness to Louise Penny's crime stories. There's not a psychopathic thug lurking in every corner and shadow. In fact, in all of her Gamanche novels, the suspects help to solve the crime. Her stories are about ordinary people who are suddenly overcome with passion and kill, then slink back into everyday life.
Since this book is part of a series, there is also a continuing story-line from previous novels. I do want to find out how this wider story arc will play out. At this point, if a reader were interested in starting to read Louise Penny, I would recommend starting with an earlier book, such as Bury Your Dead, to fill in the back story.
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Wikipedia articles on Gregorian chants, and the Gilbertine order.