“You saw evil and wanted nothing to do with it. But I invited him in.” Evil is the antithesis of what Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, expect to encounter when they retire to Three Pines, a remote Quebec village far removed from the cacophony of the city. After a particularly grueling case, Gamache is world-weary, recovering from serious injuries and anxious to view the world from a different perspective. Ensconced in Three Pines, Armand and Reine-Marie are enjoying their new environment and friends, learning the idiosyncrasies of the neighbors. Nine-year-old Laurent Lepage is the proverbial “boy who cried wolf”, forever making up tales and trying to convince adults to heed his warnings. When Laurent barges into the local bistro claiming to have found a giant gun with a monster painted on it, no one takes him seriously. The next day, Laurent is found dead, victim of an accident that is later deemed a murder.
Armand’s replacement--and former underling--Chief Inspector Isabelle Lacoste arrives from the Surete de Quebec to investigate the boy’s death.
The town grieves for the boy then grow fearful of a murderer among them. But the child’s demise is soon overshadowed by a shocking discovery, new information that changes the direction of the investigation and awakens old horrors. While Isabelle refuses to forget the murder, she must allocate considerable resources to contain this new complication, Laurent's death not as critical in light of a larger issue. In any case, the boy who cried wolf wasn’t lying: his discovery in the woods sadly contributed to his untimely death.
CI Lacoste is joined by Gamache’s son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. The recent discovery
is a hive of forensic activity after being hidden for many years, obscuring the murder with the ramifications of its existence and the enormity of its impact upon the world. Terrible possibilities, once believed the stuff of myth, have come to fruition deep in the woods outside Three Pines. Hoping to confine their discovery, officials cannot avoid drawing the interest of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) in the form of two agents.
They find it necessary to request the assistance of Professor Rosenblatt, an elderly scholar with critical knowledge links to an infamous man with grandiose ambitions.
Gamache is included in the deliberations of detectives as they consider the direction of the investigation; although he is retired, his insights and experience are invaluable.
While Lacoste makes the final decisions and carries the weight, Armand is very much a part of the process, sorting through facts about the primary players and private histories of those who have lived in Three Pines, privy to its secrets. Saddened that a young boy died because of his fertile imagination and unbridled curiosity, Armand is deeply worried that the recent discovery may also be linked to a local serial killer currently imprisoned in Quebec’s Special Handling Unit. Found guilty of the most heinous crimes, this man makes Gamache’s blood run cold.
Even more disturbing is his possible connection to the greater scheme unfolding.
In a village of artists, shop owners, and an irascible aged poet, bucolic scenes mask the evil hidden close by, the seed of destruction planted in the 1990s potentially unleashed upon an unwary world. Often the demons lurk within those who deny complicity, hidden among familiar faces, friends, neighbors, monsters. The Nature of the Beast is a chilling testament to the danger of power in the hands of greedy men
as Gamache and the detectives of the Surete de Quebec balance on the edge of a dark chasm, averting catastrophe but all too aware that their victory is pyrrhic and temporary.