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The Beautiful Mystery

by Louise Penny |

REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO

MYSTERY

Penny’s eighth mystery takes an ethereal turn as Chief Inspector Gamache and his deputy, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, become the first outsiders to enter a centuries-old monastery in the Quebec wilderness. Their admission ticket, regrettably, is the bludgeoned body of Frère Mathieu, the choirmaster who led his 23 fellow monks in otherworldly Gregorian chanting and produced a recording that became a surprise international sensation. Despite pressures from the outside world, the monks remained cloistered and seemingly dedicated to a life of contemplation. But now one of them is a murderer, and as the investigation slowly unmasks the truth, deep fissures emerge among the monks and their very fallible investigators. With enormous empathy for the troubled human soul-and an ending that makes your blood race and your heart break-Penny continues to raise the bar of her splendid series.

People PICK

Lionel Asbo: State of England

by Martin Amis |

REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

NOVEL

After years in and out of British prisons for petty crimes, “career delinquent” Lionel Asbo punches a ticket to the good life at 24 with his 140 million pound Lotto winnings. Amis, the noted British satirist, homes in on the tabloid press and England’s underclass as the brutish Liverpool thug feasts on caviar and the cult of celebrity. Nephew Des, a crime reporter harboring two family secrets, futilely tries keeping the “jackpot jailbird” on the straight and narrow. Near the end, Amis suddenly pumps his novel full of heart and warmth, providing an unexpected reward for readers.

COMMENTS? Write to the books editor: books@peoplemag.com