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Monday, November 27, 2023

Beautiful Music is a Mystery

 Louise Penny's novel, The Beautiful Mystery is very well researched.  I gather that Louis Penny is not Catholic, yet her knowledge of monastic life and Dominicans adds great authenticity to her tale.

The monks are Gilbertines, an order that disappeared from sight around the 1300's.  In the novel, their monastery is on an island in Canada--very isolated.  They were very specialized in singing chants.  To raise money, they released a CD.  The monks got the money they needed.  Also, however, came the fame, which they didn't want. This cause the monks to be divided.  There were those who wanted to do more CDs and those that resisted.  The conflict led to the murder of the choir director.

This is where Chief Inspector Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, come in.  They track down the murderer.  Additionally, is the story line of Gamache's boss and Jean-Guy's drug addiction.  The book actually ends with Jean-Guy abusing drugs--again and angry at Gamache.  Now I know Jean-Guy eventually married Gamache's daughter, so Jean-Guy and Gamache must come together again, somehow.  I've just got to get the next book. to find out.  Louise Penny is clever, isn't she?

The murder mystery is interesting.  I'm not a music person, myself.  But since I've read this novel, I'm listening to Gregorian chant and trying to appreciate it.  Appreciating chant would have given me a taste of the mystery's theme.  If I loved chant, I would have understood the monks better.  But murder?  Well, music is said to tame the savage beast.  Chant is said to be conversing with God.  

A Dominican even enters the scene from 400 years ago.  No, he's not 400 years old, but the Inquisition had been looking for the Gilbertines since they disappeared from sight.  Their fame brought them to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (Inquisition).  400 years!! Now you know why the Dominicans are called "hounds of the Lord." But I don't think the Gilbertines need fear the Dominicans, this friar fell in love with their chant, as he helped solved the murder.  He's the one who understood the ancient markings on the scroll, the murdered monk was clasping in his dying hands.

This novel had all the elements that I love: religion, murder in a monastery, monks, Dominicans, cops, and tension between employers and employees.  And it leaves the characters hanging just enough for me to order the next book in the Gamache series.  


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