Whoo, this book was a struggle. There have been other books in the Gamache series that I didn’t particularly love, but I barely finished this one. It felt like a chore.
A Beautiful Mystery has Inspector Gamache and his right-hand man, Inspector Beauvoir, investigating a murder of a monk at an extremely secluded monastery. I know I complained about a previous book in the series having too much going on (the one where he’s investigating the murder of an archaeologist), but this one had the opposite problem. It’s not a surprise that life in a monastery moves slowly and follows a strict routine, but unfortunately Penny chose to move the book along at the same glacial pace. The entire book takes place over just a few days, and I was constantly surprised at how little time had passed.
I think also I disliked this one because I hated–HATED–the ending. It’s not a happy ending. Sure, they solve the murder, but everybody’s personal lives are a mess. I’m going to need some good things to happen to Gamache and Beauvoir, pretty soon. The misery hanging like a dark cloud over them has been there for like 3 or 4 books now, and it’s starting to bring me down.
I’ve already started on the next book in the series and so far it’s a huge improvement. I know the number of murders that take place in or around Three Pines is absolutely preposterous, but I still prefer the Three Pines-centric books in this series to the others.
I will say this for A Beautiful Mystery: like all the Gamache books the food in it is outstanding. The monks make chocolate-covered blueberries for a little extra money, and they are described in loving detail, as are the monks’ evening meals. Soup, bread and cheese never sounded so mouth-watering before. Monks never eat junk food. All of their food is wholesome and simple, with the kind of flavor that brings tears to your eyes and makes you think about your childhood. I really did go to Trader Joe’s after reading this and buy chocolate-covered dried fruit and fancy cheese. #noregrets
CBR10 Bingo: Delicious!