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on 1 September 2012
I've read all the Inspector Gamache novels and enjoyed every one until now but have to say this was my least favourite. There are three main plot lines: I found the main mystery rather disappointing and because the monks never seemed to become individual characters the ending didn't have a huge impact. The Surete politics sub-plot is getting frustrating and too melodramatic and the musical mystery of the title unfortunately was just not correct. I also found it annoying that the supposedly Francophone Gamache 'mistranslates' a key phrase that is already in French. Having said all that there is some lovely imagery and Penny is clearly passionate about her subject. Worth reading if you've read earlier books and want to complete the set.
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on 12 April 2014
There seem to be conflicting reviews on this novel but for me it was a fantastic read. It often amazes me how a few readers can have such different views of books but I suppose this is what makes writing reviews and reading the books in the first place so interesting. Sometimes I read a novel if the reviews are bad just to see for myself! I enjoyed this one in the series all the more for it's haunting claustrophobic atmosphere, something which this author is so good at. I loved the whole idea of the silently trapped monks dispairing at visitors to their closed off world and the thought that one of their own was responsible for the sudden death of the elderly prior, for me it made this book even more special. I was pleased also for the story to be set outside Three Pines as it gives more depth to the tale and makes it more realistic somehow...not many murders are committed in one small place continually unless you dwell in Midsomer! A great read, one for the collection and a nice change from the English country murders.
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on 1 August 2014
This was my first Inspector Gamache book – and it will be the last. I found it to be very weak with too many unbelievable aspects.

The fundamental essential to any crime novel is to have a convincing plot. The setting for this book was ideal – an isolated monastery with only 24 monks – but there was no suspense, atmosphere or characterisation of any of the monks apart from clichéd sketches. The mystery plot was weak to non-existent with the author more concerned about relation between the police officers.

The actions of the Surete boss were unbelievable and more appropriate to a pantomime villain. He just so happened to find the doctor’s note saying “Take as needed” – how convenient! Just how often can members of the Surete assault each other?

There was far too much repetition throughout the book, be it the constant references to how enchanting the music was (I got the message after the tenth time!), the warehouse shootings (presumably in an earlier novel) or how much Beauvoir loved Annie. With proper editing the book could have been reduced down considerably in size.

Whilst I liked the setting there were some fundamental aspects that were just too incredible to believe. We were expected to believe:
-That there could be a monastery of 24 monks that has been hidden for 400 years, with not even the Vatican knowing they existed. This despite the fact that the poached all their monks from other monasteries.
-That such an enclosed and hidden monastery could record a multi selling record of Gregorian chants with basic recording equipment. How did it get released with no interaction with the world?
-That only one member of an enclosed order of monks would have a working knowledge of Latin???

At times the writer uses a lot of very short sentences – indeed sometimes just one word. This was probably to try to build suspense (where none existed), but I found it offputting and annoying.

Given the setting I thought I'd love this, but alas, I am not a convert to Inspector Gamache (more Louise Penny) and will give the series a miss
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2013
I've struggled with the last few of Louise Penny's "Inspector Gamache" series. I found the stories thin and the citizens of "Three Pines" increasingly irksome. However, "The Beautiful Mystery" marks a return to her best form.

Thankfully, there is no involvement from "Three Pines" in this book and it is the better for it. The story is slow-burn but satisfyingly complex and the addition of a rival police officer into the mix half-way through is inspired.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although I do have a few reservations. Firstly, Inspector Beauvoir has always been hard to like, and this is particularly true in this book. I thought that might begin to change with the charming love-story set-up at the close of the previous book, but this book turns out very differently. Secondly, I agree with some reviewers that the police-politics sub-plot is getting overcooked. Ms Penny clearly has more to say on this point and I hope she can keep it within the realms of possibility, as they story is getting close to soap-opera.

If you've enjoyed the earlier books then this is to be recommended. The mystery is enjoyable and the setting suitably claustrophobic.
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on 15 October 2016
I have read most of the Inspector Gamache books, and other than this one have enjoyed them all. I found this very disappointing, I thought it was very boring, much too long, it seemed to drag on and on. I confess to skimming through a lot of it desperately hoping for something interesting to happen. I do hope Louise Penny returns to the old format of Three Pines and its inhabitants
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on 28 August 2013
Inspector Gamache is such a warm, rich and genteel character you can't help but love him. To my mind, this detective series are a cut above the rest because each story conjours up a wonderful world of far flung villiage life and gentility with a pinch of art and a good dash of a modern murder case to solve with all that entails.

This particular offering is set in a monastery in a really, really far flung place. It brings to life monastic life through the contemplative eyes of Gamach and the, not so contemplative, eyes of his right hand man. It is a treasure and not to be missed but, if you have not read any of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series I would recommend that you start at the beginning (Still Life) and work your way through them so that you can get to know and love the, slightly odd, characters that she brings to life.
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on 7 October 2012
Some of Louise Penny's Gamache books have been very enjoyable, but in this one she seems to have adopted the approach that many authors of series fall prey to, which is to leave much of the story unfinished, in the hope that you will buy the next book. And this book is not really a murder mystery at all: the investigation is the sub-plot. The book is about the police themselves, and that is the part that is unfinished. The police story goes over the same ground as previous books, without managing to move forward. Overall, a disappointing read from an author who is capable of much better.
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on 1 February 2015
The interesting thing for me about Louise Penny's books is that her broad knowledge of art, literature, and music makes me want to learn even more! They remind me of visits to Canada; visiting the McMichael Gallery to see the paintings of the Group of Seven and buying a book about Emily Carr; of admiring the books and poems of Margaret Atwood (strange as they are!); of seeing in my mind's eye the beauty of the landscape ... I could go and on. The characters in her books, and in the village of Three Pines, seem like friends, and one seems to know then better over time as one does with real friends. I have visited Canada several times; have visited my brother in Toronto, have been to Montreal twice but only briefly; now I intend to go back and visit Quebec and Ottawa, and see the forests in the fall. This last book. 'The Beautiful' Mystery intrigues us with the mysteries and wonders of Gregorian chant.Thank you so much, Louise! What a lot you offer your readers, which they can never repay!
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on 23 August 2013
I have loved the previous Inspector Gamache books but this one was a bit disappointing. Louise Penny creates a good atmosphere but there was too much repetition about the music and not enough suspense. It could have been shorter.
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on 11 April 2015
Here is number 8 in the series - they are really so good, I hope she never stops! I have now found a copy of each of her 10 books, and they are really superb. Readng them from the beginning is also interesting, as she develops in style and confidence; the characters appear in further books, ready to draw us into the story - and that is one of her secrets, that we are halfway into the book from the first page.
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