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This is the eighth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series and is described on the back cover as "the most outstanding novel yet from international bestselling phenomenon Louise Penny".  I am not sure that I would describe it as the best but it is certainly well up there!  Like The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead I just could not put this book down.  


Like a few of the other books in the series so far this book is not set in the village of Three Pines but unlike any of the novels so far no characters from the village appear in this book.  The only regular characters to appear are Gamache himself and his second in command Inspector Beauvoir.  Gamache's boss Sylvain Francoeur also appears again in this novel but the reader has seen only a little of him in previous books so I do not count him as a regular character.  The book is actually set in a monastery hidden deep in the wilderness and inhabited by two dozen monks. They are men of prayer and music and until the recent release of a CD of their music have been hidden from the rest of the world for centuries. However the murder of one of their number forces them to invite the world in.  As Gamache and Beauvoir investigate the murder it becomes clear that the community of monks is not all that it seems. Gamache finds clues in the divine, the human and the cracks in between.  


Once again I would describe this as an exceptional book but would have to acknowledge that it would not be for everyone. Viccie read the third book in the series recently and said that if she had not read the first two and enjoyed them she would have given up on it as she could not get on with "the flowery language" (her description not mine).  I love the descriptive language and the examinations of human nature and character development that appear in the books alongside the details of the crimes.  I learnt early on in the series that the Gamache books are far more than a set of crime novels.  I suspect that if that is all they were I would have given up on them by now.  I love many of the characters and am beginning to care for many of them more and more. I finished this one in a state of shock and am almost dreading what I will find at the beginning of the next one!


I am finding this to be a wonderful series of books. Not only do I love the character development from book to book but I find it amazing the way that the books often prompt me to look more closely at my own behaviour and relationships. This book , probably because of where it is set and the way that it examines faith, has been especially good at this.  I will be very sorry to finish the books, I suspect that I will feel quite bereft without them!  A bit like saying goodbye to old friends.

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