I've written before about how much I love Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, and this one is no exception. I was surprised by just how tense and uncomfortable a lot of this story was, however.
In this installment, Inspector Gamache and his right-hand-man, Jean-Guy, are called to a the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, a notoriously private monastery, to investigate the murder of a monk. When they arrive, they realize this monastery is home to a famous choir known for their gorgeous chants known as "the beautiful mystery," and the murdered monk was the esteemed choir director.
I'm not Catholic, but I found the descriptions of the services wonderfully captivating. There's something so intriguing to me about the quiet nature of Catholicism - the introspection and sacred rituals, the reverence for what (and Who) is holy.
For the first time, I felt like the actual murder mystery in the novel wasn't really the focus of the story. Over the course of the last couple of novels, a story-within-the-story has been woven throughout, and this brings it almost to its conclusion. Jean-Guy's portion of the book was particularly hard to read, even though readers have known his emotional breakdown was imminent. The ending was so unsettling that I immediately bought the next book so I could just feel better about where the characters ended up.
I've yet to read a Louise Penny novel I haven't thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope she keeps cranking them out.