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  • The Nature of the Beast

  • A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
  • Written by: Louise Penny
  • Narrated by: Robert Bathurst
  • Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (187 ratings)

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The Nature of the Beast

Written by: Louise Penny
Narrated by: Robert Bathurst
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Publisher's Summary

Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions to walking trees to winged beasts in the woods to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.

But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.

And now it is now, writes Ruth Zardo. And the dark thing is here.

A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back.

Armand Gamache, the former head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, must face the possibility that in not believing the boy, he himself played a terrible part in what happens next.

©2015 Three Pines Creations, Inc. (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"As Louise Penny explains in the introduction to her newest Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, Robert Bathurst had much to live up to when he was selected to succeed longtime narrator Ralph Cosham, who passed away last year. She listened to hundreds of candidates before selecting the British actor, best known to American audiences from "Downton Abbey." Be assured that her choice was right. Bathurst's pleasant light baritone and sensitive pacing suit the thoughtful series..." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Nature of the Beast

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Inappropriate Narrator

The story was very interesting, especially for someone who remembers the original Gun scare. However, speaking as a Canadian, the narrator was entirely inappropriate. His English accent was a bit disconcerting but the poor French accent, when used, and the lack of any Canadian editing of his speech was disturbing. Examples: 'Montreal' and 'agent' were spoken as Anglo, not French; 'Radio Canada' is never spoken as Anglo, it is always spoken as French; 'CSIS' is always pronounced 'see-cis', never C-S-I-S (and there are hundreds of mentions of this!).
I really don't think an English (UK) actor should be reading a North American book and for the Gamache series it is very important to have someone familiar and comfortable with French words and phrases. There should be a Canadian producer managing the recording to catch these issues.

8 people found this helpful

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Good Story

I really love this series. My only complaint is that they need to have a Canadian read the books. The "spy" agency in Canada is CSIS pronounced Ceesis. Not C.S.I.S. Also reading French names as the English equivalent is annoying.

5 people found this helpful

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Didn’t like the narrator.

I was really disappointed with the narrator. Gone we’re the French accents replaced by English.

5 people found this helpful

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The Nature of the Beast

I love Louise Penny's narrative, the decency and clear humanity of her characters, the natural way in which beautyful poetry blends with crime and ugliness is so human, so amazing.
The way the stories flow as the author lets us know her characters and their purposes in the story is enchanting, and whether I am listening or reading the stories, I cannot stop listening until all secrets have been revealed. Bravo!

1 person found this helpful

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Inappropriate Narrator

British narrator for a Canadian novel? Very disappointed that a bilingual narrator within Canada was not selected.

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Not disappointed

I loved the Adam Sims readings. Hated the other British guy (can’t remember his name). I was very worried for this change but apart from Bathurst not knowing that in Canada we call CSIS “see-sis”, which was fairly annoying at first but I got used to it, he actually did a fine job. Each character had a voice and personality of their own and I never got confused by who was talking (This happened a lot with the other guy). I can’t wait to listen to the next one and I am not dreading the narrator!!

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New narrator

I much prefer Adam Sims, liked Ralph Cosham, and am completely bewildered at the choice of this narrator.
Great story, loved how the characters are developing in personality over the years. Can’t wait for the next one! Louise Penny is such a good author.

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Wrong choice for narrator

I really like how well researched the books in this series are but can’t figure out the narrator choice. The books lose their Canadiana appeal when the narrator doesn’t understand the references. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish the series with the new narrator. Adam Sims was the best of the 3.

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Loved it

I will always say Adam Simms is the best but I also really liked Bathurst. And such a well written mystery.

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The nature of murder...

What drives someone to kill? What does it take to get past that little voice that tells us 'thou shalt not...'? Money? Self-preservation? Jealousy?

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane
  • 2015-09-12

Try again, Ms. Penny!

I am an Inspector Gamache fan. I have listened to the entire series. In the introduction to this latest novel Louise Penny introduces the new narrator for the series. She says they did a thorough search for the replacement for Ralph Cosham, who sadly passed away. I say look harder. Robert Bathurst is a terrible choice and nearly ruined the story for me. I read the second half of the book rather than listened.. He was annoying, read to fast and made no attempt to characterize voices. The story is another good one for fans but my advice is to read it and spare yourself the disappointment.

64 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Max Goodman
  • 2015-08-28

Great story, poor narration

Would you consider the audio edition of The Nature of the Beast to be better than the print version?

With Ralph Cosham, audio edition a great experience. New narrator gets in the way.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Typical Three Pines plot. These aren't really thrillers. More about the characters and they remain interesting.

Would you be willing to try another one of Robert Bathurst’s performances?

Maybe if matched with the right book. His stiff, plummy British voice, with little distinction among characters, is out of place. His Gamache is no longer the kind, easy-going French Canadian. He's been turned into a cardboard tough guy. I don't think that's who he is supposed to be.

54 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • 2015-09-18

Heart breaking narrator

If you could sum up The Nature of the Beast in three words, what would they be?

Page turner, maybe overwrought

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes

How could the performance have been better?

This narrator does not, from my perspective, understand Three Pines or the people who live there, We need someone who loves the place, the people, not someone who understands Shakespearian overstatement

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

In the sense it was a page turner.

51 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • B.J.
  • 2015-08-29

Huge disappointment.

I was stunned to find out that Ralph Cosham died last year and would not be narrating this new book. Not only was he THE voice of Gamache, he always handled each member of the cast with real skill. (I'm even including the duck.)

Knowing that his narration had always been spot-on, I tried to be fair. Other series have gone through a change in narration and have been just fine. I waited for it to settle in. And waited more. It never happened. The uniqueness that's always defined each of the Three Pines characters just never developed and that's really unfortunate. It felt flat.

The book itself is, like all of Louise Penny's work, terrific. It's been a wonderful series and great fun to look forward to a new addition each year. I hope they figure out a way to get the narration back up to the level these books deserve.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Eva Gannon
  • 2015-09-28

Story and Narration Disappointing

The story was disjointed, it didn't flow as most of the Gamache books do, and seems to have departed from the usual depiction of the characters. I added a star after listening to the interview with Ms.Penny at the end. Calling the rocket launcher a "big gun" was preposterous and amateurish, until I read that the story was based in fact! There really was a Project Babylon, the "supergun" weapon was really called a big gun! So I added the star.

But I really didn't care for the story. It hopped around among the characters, added a murder, touched a few wars - WW11, Vietnam, Iraq, sprinkled in some political notes - draft dodgers receiving asylum in Canada (with the aid of Ruth and Monsieur Belleveau no less - and was hard to follow. For that reason it also tended to lose my interest.

I also question whether or not Gamache is going in a new direction: does he perceive himself as having retired from the Surete because he lost his nerve? The story seems to suggest that he does, particularly in the passages where he's talking to the female spy.

Also, I couldn't understand what was so terrifying about the prisoner. The reason was never really presented, unless I missed it. What the reader sees is the Three Pines contingent of the Surete trembling as if he was Satan incarnate, but why? All he has to do is look at Gamache, and Gamache shakes in his shoes! Is this part of Gamache' new direction? It seemed uncharacteristic for the character up to this point.

Robert Bathurst has a tough row to hoe, following Ralph Cosham as the narrator. Bathurst isn't a bad narrator, nor is he a particularly good one, at least, not for this series. He doesn't do characters much, and when he does, they are harsh and rather guttural. Ruth and Gamache sounded the same in my ear. Where was Jean Guy Beauvoir? Because of the narraotor's style, Jean Guy was almost lost in the telling. The repetition of the discovery and presence of the "big gun" in sleepy Three Pines in his voice actually got on my nerves. Also, his British accent just was too jarring, it didn't fit either Canada or Quebec.

I hope another narrator is hired for the next book.

So, overall, despite the factual underpinnings for the story, this is the only book in the series that I didn't really enjoy, and was glad to finish. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone as an entree into Three Pines.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Howie
  • 2015-08-30

Really miss Ralph Cosham.....so sad :(

Takes a while to get used to a new voice and the experience is different but that is to be expected. Story is excellent as per usual and really wish I good visit 3 Pines....maybe some small Quebec town will be in for a name change soon....;). I still recommend.

34 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • MJ Ryan
  • 2015-09-01

Disturbing narration

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Certainly--I would not have hired Bathurst as narrator. He is dreadful. I wonder if he's ever read one of Louise Penny's terrific novels, if he knows anything about her characters. I knew the person unfortunate enough to follow Ralph Coshom would have an uphill battle, but Bathurst is so ghastly that I find I am angered just trying to listen to his narration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Nature of the Beast?

I first read the book, and then, as is my custom with Louise Penny's books, I started to listen to it. Reading the book was a roller coaster, I was so very tense through so many scenes, so anxious to discover what would ensue. It was marvelous. And then I tried to listen to it. Kaput. There were some disturbing aspects to the book, but none more disturbing than the narration.

How could the performance have been better?

He talks too fast; I get tense as a consequence of feeling so rushed. Coshom's pacing was so very right; Bathurst is anxious, pushy, so very wrong. I am appalled at his interpretation of some of the characters, in particular Ruth and Gabri. Good grief! He gives Ruth a deeper, heartier voice than any of the men, and she is an elderly woman. So wrong. So inadequate to the beauty and intelligence and thrill of the writing.

Did The Nature of the Beast inspire you to do anything?

Yes, write this review. I eagerly await Louise's next book, and will devote considerable energy to envisioning the power's that be realizing their error and deciding upon a more skilled and perceptive narrator than Bathurst for her next gem.

Any additional comments?

I suspect it's redundant, but I am very disappointed in the narration, but more than satisfied with the story.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • E. Beth
  • 2015-08-27

New narrator poor choice. Characters lacked depth.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I'd rather have spent the time re-listening to any other book by Penny. She's one of my faves but this was my least favorite, possibly because of the poor narrator. I pre-ordered the book and finished it in two days--it was time ok-spent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I don't think I discovered one new and interesting thing about any of the series' characters. Gamache, Clara and Ruth usually surprise and delight but not this time.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Robert Bathurst?

George Guidall.

Was The Nature of the Beast worth the listening time?

Yes, but just.

Any additional comments?

Despite my comments about this book, I think Louise Penny writes beautifully. She offers readers remarkable insight into her complex characters and modern life. I often think about her books years after I've listen to them.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lindsay
  • 2015-08-29

Another great book from Louise Penny

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If there were any better, well developed characters in a series, I cannot find them. I have enjoyed every single book and this one does not fail to keep me tuned in.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This simply cannot be limited to a single character. Throughout the series, each character is fully developed and given palpable weaknesses and strengths that endear them to the reader. Of course, Ruth with her profanity (and duck) always cause me to smile...

Have you listened to any of Robert Bathurst’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Mr. Bathhurst certainly applies himself, but the talents of the previous narrator (who we still mourn), Mr. Ralph Cosham, simply cannot be outdone. Missing are the slight pauses in the dialogue to hold or create tension, the exquisite plasticity of Mr. Cosham's voice as he read for Ruth in that sharp yet mildly tremulous manner, the softness of Madame Gamache, the slightly ditzy but sincere Clara, the strong/deep and calming Myrna. Mr. Bathhurst - please slow down a bit and let the story flow a bit more gently, and let each of the characters have a voice.

Any additional comments?

Such an amazing author and amazing series - I look forward to the next!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Lorri
  • 2015-08-29

Disappointing.....

What disappointed you about The Nature of the Beast?

I so wanted to love this book. I waited impatiently for it to come out. I pre-ordered. I was so impatient, I even listened again to all of the wonderful books leading up to it, and as soon as "The Nature of the Beast" was available, I was back in Three Pines and.....everything was different. The new narrator has a lovely voice for reading, but for dialogue? Ack. Everyone sounds either entirely flat or angry and impatient. All of the charm was gone. I knew going in, ofcourse, that without the brilliant Ralph Cosham things would be different, but I never thought that the new narrator would be this jarring! There's no difference between the voices of men and women, between Anglo and Francophone accents, and OMG! I hated both Ruth's and Gamache's voice!
Then there's the story itself....The plot was just too byzantine. Bombastic, end of the world, story line? Check! Horrific, Hannibal Lecter type serial killer? Check! A mysterious play with a secret meaning? Check! Shadowy, government agents and secret murder trials? Check! Draft dodging, "underground railroads", war criminals, and a James Bondian count down to Armageddon? Sigh...Check.....And everything converging and criss crossing in Three Pines? Check! No. Just no. Too much. Too ridiculously convoluted. I'm afraid that even in Mr. Cosham's familiar and well loved voice, this would be a ridiculous plot, but with the unsympathetic reading thrown in, this book was a fail for me.

Has The Nature of the Beast turned you off from other books in this genre?

It doesn't.

Would you be willing to try another one of Robert Bathurst’s performances?

I can't really address this without going into specifics and spilling all of the beans.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Nature of the Beast?

There was no difference between characters except for Ruth, who sounded practically demonic. There was no charm, no thoughtfulness, no affection in the voices. They were either flat or angry.

Any additional comments?

I miss you, Mr. Cosham. I miss you so much.

25 people found this helpful