Saturday, September 08, 2012


Published two weeks ago, already in fifth printing.
There were at least two times during the Canadian pre-release launch party when author Louise Penny had to hush members of her 200-person audience who'd already read THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY in advance. He voice rose over theirs in urgent interruption as she warned, "Don't say too much!"

So -- I've just finished reading the book. I wept at the end. And I'm not going to say very much more. Here is what I do need to say about this eighth Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book:

1. This time, you need to read the books that go before ... if you can't make time to read all of them (and I am the first to admit that STILL LIFE, the earliest of the series, starts slowly), at least read the three that precede this one: The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, and A Trick of the Light. It will make a huge difference, I believe, to how deeply this latest book moves you and how clearly you hear and see the interplay of good and evil within it.

2. Ignore the readers and reviewers who are still trying to call this series "cozy" because so much of the action -- none of it in this latest book, though -- takes place in the village of Three Pines. You might with as much sense call Dante's Inferno a romance because it involves a man and a woman.

3. Our local newspaper, The Caledonian-Record, has chosen this season to air a 20-article series on how our beautiful, exhilarating, full-hearted region of Vermont, called the Northeast Kingdom, is also threaded through by disaster. One might say, by evil. Reading THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY confirms for me the names of the deepest forms of evil we're seeing in our culture. ... But it also reminds me that we can summon the courage and unity (and faith, by whatever name) to go forward and increase the amount of goodness and light around us.

Thanks, Louise, for daring so much.

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