This 8th book of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache quite honestly broke my heart a little.
Louise Penny doesn't just write mysteries, she writes about human beings. People in all sorts of troubles, with all sorts of flaws, and with both moments of deepest despair and the supreme joy. I guess one could say she writes about the human condition - unless that's too much of a cliché. :)
So for the first time, we do not visit Three Pines. We don't even really get a mention of Three Pines and I think that's by deliberate design. Three Pines is a place of healing and peace, (despite being the per capita murder capitol of Quebec) and there is really not a lot of peace and healing to be found by the end of The Beautiful Mystery.
The murder occurs in a monastery hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec and the only members of the Sureté sent to investigate are Gamache and his second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir.
Now, I had thought that since the end of the previous book, A Trick of the Light, things were on the upswing with Gamache and Beauvoir, and the first half of The Beautiful Mystery seemed to bear that out. Then it all goes to hell. The problems of the monastery are reflected in the problems of the Sureté and the problems of Jean-Guy and Armand and I have to say that I finished the last quarter of the book with a palpable feeling of dread. One that did NOT disappear with the closing lines - so I started the next book right away and those that know me, know I don't DO that. *LOL*
I have to say that I didn't completely get all the details of the explanation of the mystery. I didn't matter though, not really, I understood the emotions behind the actions. :)
So, yes, I am on Book 9 (and weeping because I only have 2 more after this and then the new one that just came out) and I can honestly say that I love this series more and more with every book.