Starting in the middle of a detective series is always difficult. A dear friend recommended this Inspector Ganache novel because its setting in a remote Gilbertine monastery and the key role played by Gregorian chant are right up my alley. Ganache is like many British series detectives. He is quiet, brooding, and understatedly intellectual. He enjoys Gregorian chant and has heard the recording made by the Gilbertines to whose monastery he and his right hand man, Beauvoir, are summoned to investigate the murder of the prior. Their investigation reveals a community divided between the abbot, to whom the monks swear obedience, and the prior, whose musical brilliance led their daily chanted prayers and their rise to international fame. Woven through the drama underlying the murder is a secondary mystery involving neumes and the formation of the first musical notation. A third plot continues a story from a previous installment of the series in which Ganache and Beauvoir were involved in an ambush that cost the lives of several of their comrades and earned Ganache the further enmity of his superior, Francoeur.
I enjoyed the mystery at the monastery and the characters, both monks and detectives. However, the storyline from the previous novels of the series was difficult to read and left me angry at the novel’s end. The plot twist also left me anxious to read the next in the series to see if events improve. Thank goodness I am coming to the series late and not a reader who had to wait a year or two to find out what happened next.