While killing time on a weekend jaunt, a thrift store caught my attention and craving a dig through a pile of books called my name. Among those longing for a home, I found Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.
Others had talked of Penny’s books and her extraordinary gift of storytelling but I had never read one of hers. This would be my first.
The moment I opened to the Prologue and read the first two sentences Penny had my attention:
In the early nineteenth century the Catholic Church realized it had a problem. Perhaps, it must be admitted, more than one.
The hook–the idea of a church, any church, realizing and admitting it has a problem, “perhaps more than one”–is well written and holds a certain amount of curiosity. What kind of problem? How large? Who’s behind the problem? And in the “early nineteenth century?”
Meeting Chief Inspector Gamache for the first time held a certain fascination as well. Penny’s use of descriptive words and phrases in writing this character is exceptional, painting an image in the mind of this man destined to unlock mystery after mystery. Her characters, while fully developed on the page, are human in emotion and action.
Interwoven into The Beautiful Mystery is the history of ancient church music. As in most monasteries of the time, music may have been the only vocal activity among its residents. And currently, it seemed to be part of the Church’s problems.
Louise Penny writes a mystery filled with thought-provoking turns and twists while gifting the reader with a gracious and intelligent read. Although part of a series, The Beautiful Mystery, stands alone in its own right.
Recommend for those who enjoy mystery, suspense, and a bit of history thrown in.
Up next: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries