Wednesday, December 06, 2017

First Wednesday Book Review CLub


I could not help but be impressed with the love Louise Penny received in Toronto at Bouchercon. Yvette Banek convinced me to try this one. She felt this was the one I was most likely to enjoy. And I did enjoy it somewhat, admired the writing, was impressed with how much research must have gone into learning about chants, monks, monasteries, the politics of a monastery. It was a book I admired more than liked though.

Briefly,  Gamache and his protege, Beauvoir go to a remote monastery where a monk has been killed. The murderer must be one of their own because it is cloistered. The monastery has recently gained fame for their chants of ancient works. This has caused a chasm between two groups of monks: the ones who feel moving forward is necessary and ones (led by the abbot) who feel their first calling is religious. The monk who is killed represents the progressive group.

My main issues with THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY were: too much of it relied on the reader knowing the events that took place in previous books. Hardly a page went by when these events were not referenced and yet never explained enough for the first-time reader to make sense of.

Secondly, the mystery, although interesting in the abstract, was not all that interesting in the way it played out. Only a few of the monks were sharply drawn and too much time was spent on arcane discussions. It felt at time like information dumps.

I also disliked how Gamache's supervisor was flown in (literally) to add tension to the story because there was so little. I find it hard to believe a police supervisor from a major cityy would take the time to go to this remote place just to torment our protagonist.

I also found little reason for Beauvoir, the second in command, to revert to his addiction to drugs when he is preparing to marry. This whole storyline and especially the ending, didn't work for me at all.

As I write this, I like it even less. And yet, I had no trouble finishing a long book, which I often do. So the beautiful mystery is why I finished it and why it didn't work for me. 

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy right here. 


11 comments:

Lucy said...

It sounds interesting, even if it sounds maybe frustrating for you at times. Thanks for the review. :)

Rick Robinson said...

I think you got a bum steer to start with this one, there were better choices. What's done is done, however, and I doubt you'll be reading another. Too bad.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I tried reading the first in the series a while back and couldn't get past the first 50 pages. I don't know why. Just couldn't connect with the characters I guess.

Linda McLaughlin said...

How disappointing for you. One of my book club friends loves that series, but it sounds like one that really should be read in order or skipped entirely.

Don Donovan said...

And yet didn't this get Best Novel of the Year at Bouchercon one year? She wins that almost every year, which I don't really get.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Me either. I have read two now and she is just not for me, I guess. I admire her writing, and her ability to create characters but I am not a whodunit reader. More a whydunit.

Powell River Books said...

I love a good mystery. - Margy

troutbirder said...

Well you convinced me. I too don't like to go back in mysteries...:)

Barrie said...

Certainly Louise Penny has a huge following. I really liked Still Life, which is the first book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. It does seem a little dangerous to assume a reader will read all books in order. Thanks for reviewing!

Jenn Jilks said...

I love mysteries, and have to work hard to go through a series. I find, even if the book does not depend upon the info in the previous book, the author must have learned and grown to get to where they are.

Sarah Laurence said...

A fair review! I can see why you didn't like that book. Those issues would bother me too. I usually prefer stand alones to series.