This week it’s off to a remote part of Canada, with Louise Penny’s 2012 mystery, “The Beautiful Mystery” – the title refers to church music, to plainsong, but it’s a nice play on words. Gamache and his sidekick, Beauvoir, have been summoned to a remote monastery, the last surviving outpost of the Gilbertine order, to investigate the death of the prior. It is a closed and silent order, and the shock of the murder has led the monks to close ranks against the investigating duo.
It’s a classic locked-room mystery, or rather a locked-cloister mystery, and John Dickson Carr would have been proud of the plot. So far, so traditional (unlike its predecessor, which did something I’d never seen before in crime – the suspense all came from a sub-plot, told in flashbacks, while the mystery itself was simple and easily solved). However, the introduction of Gamache’s old nemesis, Superintendent Francoeur (how much his name sound likes rancour) ratchets up the emotional tension.
It’s probably not one to start with, if you are new to Three Pines – too much of the tension depends on having read a previous book, “Bury Your Dead” – but this takes an unusual setting, an unusual motive, and anchors it firmly in the modern era. Louise Penny has taken this part of Canada and very much made it her own – I’m glad I read this.