‘A cracking storyteller’ Ann Cleeves
The Kingdom of the Blind
When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.
None of them had ever met the elderly woman.
The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?
When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing.
But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing.
The investigation into what happened six months ago—the events that led to his suspension—has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip though his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.
Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.
As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.
We often find more than one theme running through Louise Penny’s books and this one is no different. Gamache is determined to recover the remaining narcotics that went missing. This drug is extremely dangerous. As he is still suspended Gamache has to use some rather unusual tactics the cost of doing this is not only his career, his reputation – both of which are at quite a low at the moment anyway – but he puts the life of a colleague in imminent danger too!
Gamache also receives a letter informing him that he has been named as an executor of an old lady who has recently died along with Myrna, the bookstore owner in Three Pines, and a young man. It appears, at first, that none of them know the old lady. As this curious storyline develops in a wintry Canada we are treated to a rather wonderful mystery.
Louise Penny has, once again, produced a wonderful book which shows Gamache at his best when he, quite literally, puts his body on the line to save a life and, perhaps, at his worst as he appears to sacrifice not only a colleagues reputation and service but also their life!
Both show Gamache in a variety of different ways or, at least, seemingly so. What will be the outcome for Gamache? Will he be reinstated? Can he recover the missing narcotics? Which colleague is in danger? Who is this old lady and why have Gamache, Myrna and this young man been chosen as executors?
A Better Man
The air is thick with excitement and anxiety as Sûreté du Québec agents gather in the conference room for the Monday morning meeting of the homicide department.
This will be Armand Gamache’s first day back since his demotion from head of the entire force, to head of homicide. Complicating matters, he’ll be sharing the duties with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir.
Amid blistering social media attacks, Gamache sets out on his first assignment – to find a missing woman.
The search for Vivienne Godin is played out against a backdrop of catastrophic spring flooding. Three Pines itself is threatened, as the Rivière Bella Bella breaks its banks. A province-wide emergency is declared and desperate efforts are underway to save towns and cities, dams and bridges.
As Gamache leads the search for Vivienne, he develops a profound empathy for her distraught father. With a daughter of his own, he finds himself haunted by the question, how would you feel, if…
As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught becomes crueler, a body is discovered. And the victim’s father contemplates a murder of his own.
And the question facing both Gamache and Beauvoir shifts.
What would you do, if… your child’s killer might walk free?
Louise Penny often writes about very difficult subjects within the mysteries that Gamache is investigating. Always handling them with great sensitivity and yet in such a way as to put across a point of view or a dilemma of some kind that gives a different perspective, allowing us (the reader) to consider not only how Gamache deals with them but also how we ourselves might. In this book we have a missing woman who has most likely left an abusive relationship.
With the backdrop of spring flooding and Gamache’s attempt to help with that we realise that there are still difficult times ahead for him as he returns from his suspension demoted and back in homicide. He may well be it’s head but for the moment it is alongside Jean-Guy who is working his notice and planning to move to Paris (France) with Annie for his new job.
As the investigation goes on it becomes more and more likely that the woman is dead. The woman’s father has strong feelings about what may have happened and who caused it. He is prepared to face whatever punishment may come his way should he need to reek his own revenge, if the authorities fail to find out what happened. Gamache finds that he has a great deal of sympathy for Vivienne’s father but would he really condone murder?
All the Devils are Here
On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.
When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.
It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.
A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.
Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.
For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.
In this book we travel to Paris (France) where Armand and Reine-Marie are visiting family and friends. On the way back from their meal Stephen Horowitz, Gamache’s godfather, is run over. He is so badly injured that the doctors do not know if he will pull through.
As Gamache investigates the hit and run we are given a lot of back story to Armand’s life. What brought about his relationship with Stephen. There is a lot about Gamache’s relationships with his family especially his son, Daniel, which has been a very difficult one for some time.
Then a body is discovered!
Jean-Guy and Annie have moved to Paris after Jean-Guy had become somewhat disillusioned with the Sûreté and that world which can be so very dark, still he doesn’t hesitate to help Gamache. Reine-Marie is also a terrific asset to the investigation. I really enjoyed this book with many of the Gamache family getting involved one way or another in the (unofficial) investigation.
Louise Penny has written a really wonderful story full of mystery, murder and intrigue set against the glorious back drop of Paris which is described beautifully and, whilst it made me feel rather sad that it has been so very many years since I visited, allowed me to wander its streets once again – if only in my dreams.
To sum up!
Are there any more superlatives that can be used for Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache books? Wonderful writing, wonderful characters and wonderful stories what more can you ask for? One of my favourite series which I highly recommend.
Well that’s my 10th, 11th and 12th review done! I’ve now caught up on reviews and these were all on my my original list. So twelve books read, eight to go! It’s going to be a tall order to get all twenty in this year but I will definitely manage at least 15. So, back I go to reading and maybe, just maybe I’ll do it.
Published: Little, Brown Book Group |2018 – 2020
Author: Louise Penny is the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Gamache series, including Still Life, which won the CWA John Creasey Dagger in 2006. Recipient of virtually every existing award for crime fiction, Louise was also granted the Order of Canada in 2014 and received an honorary doctorate of literature from Carleton University and the Ordre Nationale du Québec in 2017. She lives in a small village south of Montreal.
The Three Pines order, from the first to the most recent:
A FATAL GRACE / DEAD COLD
THE CRUELEST MONTH
A RULE AGAINST MURDER / THE MURDER STONE
THE BRUTAL TELLING
BURY YOUR DEAD
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN
THE LONG WAY HOME
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
A GREAT RECKONING
KINGDOM OF THE BLIND
A BETTER MAN
ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE
THE MADNESS OF CROWDS
THE MADNESS OF CROWDS is coming out, published by Hodder, in the UK on August 24th. Click here for pre-order links in the UK.
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