Here are some mini-reviews for my latest reads for the 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by The Bookwym's Hoard!
The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny (2012)
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache travels to a remote monastery in the Quebec wilderness when the monastery's prior/choirmaster is found murdered. Although this was a cool mystery (the suspect list is limited to the other 23 monks living there, the focus on Gregorian chants, and the vow of silence taken by the monks), sometimes it was a little hard to follow the religious terminology, at least for me. I really had to concentrate on abbot v. prior, etc., because the monastery was split between the two spiritual leaders.
This installment of the series was a really interesting character study of these men who joined this monastery - how they came to be there, their roles in this mini-society. But as always, I was drawn to Gamache and his second-in-command, Beauvoir. I feel like we saw a side to Gamache that we hadn't seen before, especially when his superior, the Superintendent, comes to the island supposedly to help with the investigation. Extra layers were also added to Beavoir's character, as he is now (secretly or not-so-secretly) dating Gamache's daughter, and he is still struggling from the after-effects of the foiled terror plot from a couple stories ago.
Even 8 books into the series, I still find Penny's writing to be magical - it's comforting yet suspenseful, building the mystery while never losing focus on the characters. I feel like something big is coming in the series, and I look forward to the next installment. 4.5 stars
How The Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #9) by Louise Penny (2013)
Another masterful installment from Louise Penny. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back in Three Pines to investigate the murder of a friend of a Three Pines resident. That friend turns out to be quite a famous person, although she had kept her true identity hidden for many years.
As interesting as this mystery was, I felt the bulk of the novel was devoted to increasing problems in the police department. Gamache's team has been dismantled and he begins to suspect that things are more than what they seem. As he uncovers major corruption, he's not sure who he can trust, but he knows he needs help.
The way Penny builds tension is just amazing - I could not put this book down. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what happened to all the characters. I loved how Penny incorporated the residents of Three Pines into the big scandal at the police department. She really seamlessly brought together these two elements in a way that felt genuine. 4.5 stars