The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

My mom and I both read Penny's Gamache series. She loves all of them; I like the "smaller" mysteries, the ones that don't involve institutional corruption or cross-country drug trafficking. The Madness of Crowds is one of those smaller, more personal mysteries. We're back in Three Pines, which is always nice, and Gamache and his whole family are there for the holidays. Gamache is asked to provide security for a professor's lecture, but, of course, it's not quite as simple as it sounds. The professor's visit and talk lead to moral dilemmas, violence, and ultimately a death.  The mystery itself was fine. We have several suspects, even if I question why a couple of them would make the list- the motives seem rather weak. The clues are revealed slowly, allowing us to discover them along with Gamache as he and his team pull back the layers of people's lives, discovering their secrets and past choices. Penny does touch on COVID, or the...
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All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

I've read every one of Louise Penny's Three Pines series. I loved the quirky village residents, the small-town setting, and the intricate, well-plotted mysteries. I like Gamache as a main character and and appreciate his thoughtfulness and calmness. Granted, some of the books I've enjoyed more than others. All the Devils Are Here is somewhere in the middle of the pack. The mystery was well-done and I enjoyed getting to know more of Gamache's family. I missed some of my favorite people though. All the Devils Are Here is set in Paris, where Gamache's children now reside. Gamache's son-in-law, friend, and former protege, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, has also relocated to the city and is working for a private engineering company. Of course, Reine-Marie has come to the city with Gamache, and we also get to meet his billionaire godfather Stephen Horowitz. The action begins when the elderly Horowitz is hospitalized after a car deliberately hits him. Not long afterward, a body turns...
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A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man by Louise Penny

With A Better Man, Penny is back to the kind of mystery I enjoy, the small, personal mystery where the fate of Canada is not hanging on the outcome, which I was happy about. When the stories are too big, too political, it makes me think maybe I should step away from the series, but then one like this brings me back. It starts as a missing person case, but quickly changes to a murder investigation, all while the waters are rising around Quebec. The dead woman was abused by her husband, so suspicion quickly and naturally falls on him - and stays there. But proving he's the killer is another matter altogether. I knew the "who" although not necessarily the why or how. That's not the fault of the book, really the mystery was well-done. The trio, Gamache, Beauvoir, and Lacoste think they have a decent case against the husband, but it's blown out of the water and they...
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Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Penny's Inspector Gamache series is definitely one that is best to read from the beginning. However, this is #14, which makes it a bit difficult, so it you want to jump in here, I'd recommend you at least read Glass Houses, #13, as it connects closely with some of the events in Kingdom of the Blind. We've got two story lines in this one. There's the mysterious will and dead man in a collapsed house. Then, there's secondary one involving the drugs Gamache allowed to get onto the streets of Montreal in the previous. The Baroness, Bertha Baumgartnor, a cleaning woman who lived near Three Pines, wrote the will mentioned in the blurb, splitting between her children a vast fortune and properties that she clearly did not have. The dead man is her son. The piece about the collapsed farmhouse, about the search and rescue, is one of the tensest scenes on the book. Winter in Quebec can be dangerous. I loved...
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Glass Houses by Louise Penny

I love Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series. If you haven't read it, you should. Do start at #1 though, you'll appreciate them most that way. That being said, this was not my favorite of the series. I liked the whole concept the book is built around, the ideas of Conscience and guilt and judgement. As always, the characters are well-done and I am happiest when a large part of the book revolves around the familiar village of Three Pines, as it does here. There are some new folks in town, most of whom have secrets, but finding out who they are and what they know/have done was interesting. Our old friends are all pretty much the same as always, which is good. Things that didn't work for me: 1. The construction of the story. This story jumps back and forth in time too much and too abruptly. We are at a courtroom trial in the present, but for half of the book we...
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A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I love Penny's Gamache series and this one was even better than the last couple. Gamache has taken the position of Commander of the Sûreté academy, the last bastion of the corruption that has plagues the Sûreté and a place to stop the corruption in its earliest stages, with the training of the cadets. And of course, there's a murder. One of the professors is killed, and no one at the academy is above suspicion, including Gamache  and the cadets. It's a very personal mystery for Gamache and a complicated situation. Is murder sometimes justifiable? Is anyone beyond redemption?\ As always, it's the characters the drive the mystery. With several trips to Three Pines and the homicide at the school, we meet most of the old familiar characters we know and love, but the new folks are well-drawn. The people here are real, even Gamache. They have strengths, but faults too, loyalties and habits. There's also the mystery of the old map, why it was...
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