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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Waiting on Wednesday – The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Beautiful Mystery (Unabridged Audio)

by Louise Penny
Narrated by Ralph Cosham

Publication Date: August 28, 2012

I knew this was coming out, but didn’t realize how soon! If you haven’t met Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the head of Homicide for the Surete du Quebec yet, here’s your chance. I’m sure these are great books to read, too, but I listen to them on audio, narrated by Ralph Cosham. He brings out the humor in this mystery series, but has the appropriate gravitas for the many serious themes that run through the books (including, but not limited to, murder).

Listen to an audiobook sample on the author’s Web site here. She also reports that the audio edition of The Beautiful Mystery has already won an Earphones award from Audiofile. (See? I told you they were great audiobooks!)

Read my review of one of the earlier books in the series here.

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Waiting on Wednesday — The Drop

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Drop (Hachette Audio Edition)

Michael Connelly

Publication Date: November 28

The Drop is the seventeenth book by Michael Connelly featuring L.A.P.D. Detective Harry Bosch, long-time loner turned accidental family man. The Harry Bosch novels fall into the “rogue detective” category of crime fiction; Harry Bosch is a loose cannon in the eyes of supervisors and administrators, willing to break rules and/or heads as necessary to solve a murder case. The first several audiobook versions were narrated to perfection by Dick Hill. The switch to Len Cariou was a little disturbing at first (Who the heck is this? This isn’t Harry Bosch!) but I adjusted. (Really. I did.) Len Cariou is Harry Bosch now. (They’d just better not change narrators again. Ever.)
I’m not much of a crime fiction reader in general, but I’m eagerly awaiting the new Harry Bosch novel.

A Comic Interlude: Pirate King by Laurie R. King

Eleventh in Laurie R. King‘s imagined memoirs of Mary Russell — who is usually found investigating crimes related to national or international political intrigue, along with the retired Sherlock Holmes — Pirate King is a romp through Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta Pirates of Penzance and the early British silent film industry, and, so, is correspondingly lighter in tone than the earlier books in the series. So, if you’re a reader of serious literature only who doesn’t appreciate levity, doesn’t have time for frivolous pleasures, and who CAN’T TAKE A JOKE, FOR PETE’S SAKE, (Just kidding!) you can skip over Pirate King and wait for the next book in the series.
There has always been humor in the Mary Russell series (starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) especially in the playfully competitive relationship between Russell and Holmes (as they call each other.) Mary Russell is even on Twitter (@mary_russell). But here the author plays around more than usual with the idea that this is a fictional memoir about the fictional narrator’s life with Sherlock Holmes, a fictional character who, in the memoir, is actually a real person who bemoans the fact that he is thought to be fictional. In Pirate King, a film called Pirate King is being shot with a group of actors playing a group of actors who are filming a movie called Pirate King about The Pirates of Penzance, so Pirate King is a book about a memoir about a movie within a movie, with life imitating art, etc.
Well acquainted with disguise and artifice herself, Russell infiltrates the group of prima donnas, stage mothers, and professional actors as the assistant to the general manager of Fflytte Films. Fflytte Films is known for filming realistic films on location, and for realism’s sake, they set sail for Lisbon to find swarthy actors to play the piratical parts in the movie. Russell warns readers at the start that this escapade is so far-fetched as to be unbelievable. She begins with a playbill listing the cast of characters and inserts screen shots of random silent movie-style commentary such as “Where is Daniel?” and “Also the previous Monday…” throughout the book.
If you think that having Sherlock Holmes acquire at an advanced age a young, myopic, Oxford-educated bluestocking apprentice — who speaks multiple languages, is expert with a knife, and whose tongue is as sharp as the knife she keeps in her boot — is messing around too much with the Sherlock Holmes canon, then this series is probably not for you. But if you like novels with strong, smart characters, interesting plots, and some historical and intellectual underpinnings (and you don’t mind the idea of Sherlock Holmes meeting his female match) you should give this series a try.

Other opinions on Pirate King:
Bookotron
Jen’s Book Thoughts
Nonsuch Book
A Striped Armchair

Waiting on Wednesday – Pirate King

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:


Pirate King

Laurie R. King

Publication Date: September 6

I’m looking forward to Pirate King (Random House, 2011), the latest absorbing novel from Laurie R. King.
Pirate King
is the 11th book in the series of novels (starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) that have the young bluestocking Mary Russell living and working alongside the daunting Sherlock Holmes. An unusually well-educated female of the day, Mary Russell has daunting talents of her own when it comes to detection, as well as a facility with languages and logic that make her an, if not quite equal, partner in solving cases, a close facsimile thereof.
The books in this series touch on international politics, history, philosophy, religion, and other weighty issues, with the elements of historical fiction outweighing the mystery elements. They may not appeal to Sherlock Holmes purists, or to those who like their mysteries straight up.

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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