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on 11 July 2017
I have read all the Gamache books so far and loved each one for various reasons. However, The Beautiful Mystery just didn't quite hit the mark for me sadly.

That's not to say I disliked it completely - the setting of an isolated monastery was wonderful, the images the author conjured up were quite breathtaking and the reader is given a rare insight into the lives of monks and how often they feel conflict between their beliefs and devotions, and the life they have left behind on the "outside".

That said, the book as a whole just didn't seem to read as easily as the previous novels in this series, the main plot was somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing conflict between Franceour and Gamache & Beauvoir, and for me the ending was somewhat lacklustre. On the whole, the mystery side of the story didn't seem to really "get going" - it was almost there as as afterthought.

However, because I absolutely love Armand Gamache and am now feeling quite protective towards Jean Guy Beauvoir after reading this book, I am giving it three stars purely for the fact that I am certainly not put off this series and am just about to start book 9.
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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 21 June 2017
v good
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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 27 January 2015
Great book in this well written series of sympathetic characters.
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on 2 August 2017
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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 11 June 2017
A thriller set in a monastery. It gives insight into living in community and the stresses which could lead to a murder. A well constructed plot which teaches you something as well as teasing your mind as you try to reason out who did it.
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