9 June 2024

Review: THE MADNESS OF CROWDS, Louise Penny

  • this book made available by my local library
  • this edition published 2021 by Hodder Stoughton
  • ISBN 978-1-529-37939-6
  • 436 pages
  • #17 book in Gamache series
  • author website  

Synopsis (author)

You’re a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

My Take

Louise Penny began  writing this book at the end of March 2020 as she sat at home in quarantine. I remember that time as we too just made it home (to Australia) before our airports shut their doors. Was it only just over 4 years ago?

Penny decided to make the book post-pandemic, as the world returned to "normal". In the long run it was published well before the pandemic was over.

Gamache is asked to provide security for what he expects to be a poorly attended event, that is, until he works out what Abigail Robinson has on her agenda.

And then that agenda becomes personal for Gamache as it has implications for his newly born grand-daughter. 

A murder occurs on New Year's Eve in Three Pines, and then the possibility of a much older murder rears its head.

Another fascinating plot with issues relevant for all of us.

My rating: 5.0

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