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Page 35

Beauvoir looked out from beneath the desk, his dark hair disheveled. “Like hockey players are recruited?”

“Like you were recruited. I found you lording it over the evidence locker in that Sûreté outpost, remember?”

Beauvoir would never forget. Banished to the basement, because no one wanted to work with him. Not because he was incompetent, but because he was an asshole. Though Beauvoir preferred to believe they were just jealous of him.

He’d been assigned to the evidence locker since he was only fit for things not actually alive.

They’d wanted him to quit. Expected him to quit. And, to be honest, he’d been about to quit, when Chief Inspector Gamache had come calling on a murder investigation. He’d come to the locker looking for a piece of evidence. And found Agent Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

And had invited him to join the investigation.

It was a moment Beauvoir would never forget. Looking into those eyes, a smart-ass remark dying on his lips. He’d been fucked with so often, jerked around, insulted, bullied. He barely dared hope this wasn’t another trick. A new bit of cruelty. Kicking a dead man. Because Beauvoir could feel himself dying down there. All he’d ever wanted was to be a Sûreté officer. And every day he came closer to losing it.

But now this large man with the quiet demeanor had offered to take him away.

To save him. Even though they were strangers.

And Agent Beauvoir, who had sworn to never trust again, had trusted Armand Gamache. That was fifteen years ago.

Had these monks also been recruited? Found? Saved, even? And brought here?

“So,” said Beauvoir, getting up from the floor and dusting off his slacks, “you think someone lured these monks to the abbey?”

Gamache smiled and looked at Beauvoir over the top of his reading glasses. “You have a gift for making everything sound suspicious, even ominous.”

“Merci.” Beauvoir sat down with a thump on one of the hard wooden chairs.

“Does it work?” Gamache nodded toward the laptop.

Beauvoir pressed some buttons. “The laptop works, but we can’t connect to the Internet.” Beauvoir continued to pound the connect button as though that would help.

“Perhaps you should pray,” suggested the Chief.

“If I was going to pray for anything it’d be food.” He gave up trying to connect. “When’s dinner, do you think?”

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Then Beauvoir remembered something and brought a small wax paper packet from his pocket. He placed it on the desk between them and opened it up.

“What are those?” asked the Chief, leaning closer.

“Try one.”

Gamache picked up a chocolate and held it between his large fingers. It looked microscopic there. Then he ate it. And Beauvoir smiled to see the astonishment, and delight, on Gamache’s face.

“Blueberry?”

Beauvoir nodded. “Those tiny wild ones. Chocolate covered. They make them by the bucketload here. I found the chocolaterie when I was looking for the monks. Seems like the better find.”

Gamache laughed, and together they ate the few chocolates. They were, the Chief had to admit, without a doubt the best he’d ever tasted, and he’d tasted a few chocolates in his life.

“What’re the chances, Jean-Guy, that all two dozen monks here, all of them, would have good voices?”

“Pretty small.”

“And not just good voices, but great voices. And ones that work together, that fit together.”

“Maybe they were trained,” suggested Beauvoir. “Isn’t that what the choir director, the dead man, would’ve done?”

“But he had to have something to work with. I’m far from an expert on music but even I know a great choir isn’t just a collection of great voices. They have to be the right voices, complementary. Harmonious. I think these monks are here by design. I think they were specially chosen, to sing the chants.”

“Maybe they were specially bred for this,” said Beauvoir, his voice low and his eyes mock-mad. “Maybe this is some Vatican plot. Maybe there’s some mind control in the music. To lure people back to the Church. Produce a zombie army.”

“My God, man, that’s brilliant! It’s so obvious.” Gamache looked at Beauvoir with awe.

Beauvoir laughed. “You think the monks were specially chosen?”

“I think it’s a possibility.” The Chief got to his feet. “Keep working at that. It would be nice to be able to contact the outside world. I’m going to speak to the portier.”

“Why him?” asked Beauvoir as Gamache made for the door.

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