Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir are called to investigate a murdered body at a cloistered monastery.
The choir director has been murdered and a complication is that the monks have taken a vow of silence, except for their chanting. Their music has been recorded and brought the monastery a welcome income.
Armand and Jean-Guy meet the leader of the community and he shows them the body. It's a good example of a locked room mystery where all of the suspects are in this wilderness area and one must be the killer.
Two other stories are interwoven into the mystery. Jean-Guy is in love with Armand's daughter and plans to ask for her hand. Also, Chief Superintendent Francoeur arrives and attempts to undermine Gamache's investigation. In a very nice show of loyalty, Jean-Guy sticks up for Gamache at every turn.
The novel is well done with good characterizations and a nice job in describing the monastic life and how that changed when the choir master recorded the monks' Gregorian Chants and the monastery became a place tourists tried to get to.