Malady in a Monastery: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (AUDIO)

Cover image of The Beautiful Mystery audio editionSet in a monastery deep in a forest in northernmost Quebec in mid-September when the leaves are already turning, The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (narrated by the talented Ralph Cosham) is a great audiobook to listen to as nights are getting longer and winter looms. In this eighth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, there’s no visit to the village of Three Pines, where readers of the first seven novels may have imagined spending quiet nights in the local B&B (quiet, except for when there has been a murder in or around the village), but meeting the fictional monks of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups and catching up with the continuing story of the fallout for the chief inspector and his second-in-command, Jean Guy Beauvoir, from traumatic events of the previous year (see Bury Your Dead and A Trick of the Light) more than made up for not hearing about my favorite Three Pines characters – Clara, Peter, Gabri, Olivier, Myrna, and Ruth.

“Some malady is coming upon us. / We wait. We wait.” These lines from T.S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral keeps entering the mind of Armand Gamache, the usually mild-mannered head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, during the time he spends at the remote St. Gilbertine monastery. No outsiders have ever before been allowed entrance; in fact, no outsiders – including the Pope – had known the monastery even existed until a few years ago. Chief Inspector Gamache appreciates the beauty of poetry and of the Gregorian chant that the monks have suddenly become famous for, but he’s no pushover when it comes to investigating murder. In this case, that murderer is clearly one of the twenty-three cloistered monks remaining in the building with the thick stone walls, behind the door that is always kept locked, but that isn’t the most dangerous thing lying in wait for Armand Gamache and his more philistine, but beloved, friend and lieutenant Jean Guy.

Listen to an excerpt from The Beautiful Mystery as narrated by Ralph Cosham here. If you like audiobooks at all, I guarantee you’ll like the audio editions of Louise Penny’s books, but you should start with Still Life, the first one. (Still Life is also a good one to read in the fall, if I remember correctly.) The only quibbles I had with The Beautiful Mystery narration is the way the author distinctly pronounced the “o” in the word “Catholic” (“Cath-oh-lic”) which sounded odd to me, and that he forgot to use the French pronunciation of the name “David.” Otherwise, the audiobook narration was as heavenly and mesmerizing as the Gregorian chant that was sung to near perfection by the monks of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups.

The Beautiful Mystery (Unabridged)
Penny, Louise
Macmillan Audio
August 28, 2012
978-1-4272-2609-9
13.5 hours on 11 CDs

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Beautiful Mystery on CD from Macmillan Audio through Audiobook Jukebox.

Other opinions of The Beautiful Mystery audiobook (all raves):
AudioFile
Bookin’ with “Bingo”
Thoughts in Progress

You may also be interested in my review of The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny, here.

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Inspector Armand Gamache Does It Again: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

I just came back from another visit via audiobook to Three Pines, the idyllic village hidden away in the woods of Quebec, populated by artists, intellectuals, and quirky individuals of all stripes who are horrified each time they discover that someone among them is a murderer. With the seventh book in this mystery series by talented author Louise Penny on the way in August, the charming villagers of Three Pines (and the outsiders who find their way to the B&B there) have to confront this shocking truth fairly often.
The first book about Three Pines and the courtly, crime-solving Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec, Still Life, was instantly compared to the classic English mysteries of Agatha Christie and there’ve been no shortage of favorable reviews and awards for the series ever since. Reviewers have recommended Louise Penny to fans of P.D. James, Donna Leon, and Dorothy Sayers, among others.
I have been suggesting the Armand Gamache books for a few years to readers looking for a traditional-style mystery series that’s not too violent but not a cozy; humorous but not cutesy; and has characters with some depth whom the reader learns more about over the course of the series.
I don’t read many mysteries, but today, listening to the end of The Cruelest Month (superbly narrated as all of the books in the series are by Ralph Cosham), it struck me that the books appeal to me in the same way Jane Langton’s Homer and Mary Kelly mysteries do. The likeable main characters are witty, kindhearted, and have a few realistic failings, while the dislikable minor characters are also so three-dimensional (for a mystery, anyway) that the reader can empathize with them, as well. Since there unfortunately hasn’t been a new mystery from Jane Langton since 2005’s Steeplechase, I’m glad that I have the rest of the Inspector Armand Gamache series to listen to.
BTW, this series should also appeal to readers who like descriptions of food in their books. The meals served up at the Three Pines bistro and bed and breakfast in Three Pines always sound delicious!

The series so far:
Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
The Brutal Telling

Listen to a sample of the Blackstone audiobook edition of The Cruelest Month here.

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