The Madness of Crowds

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Louise Penny 2021: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #17

The pandemic is over, thanks to a vaccine, and Inspector Armand Gamache and his team are, as always, hard at work. In a story that includes actual historical events and figures, Ms. Penny has placed the Top Three of the Homicide Division of the Sûreté du Québec in the challenging position of guarding a controversial personage at a rally promoting a strategy that threatens the lives of those close to Gamache’s heart.

(The reader needs to suspend their disbelief that a Provincial police force would consider it sound policy to deploy all three to such as tinderbox. Large-scale violence and panic are likely, which puts the lives of Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Isabelle Lacoste at risk.)

Things happen at the rally, as predicted. As expected, they continue to happen after the rally. As a result, Gamache works to solve an attempted murder, a murder, a suicide that could be a murder, and a murder. He is faced with evil masquerading as good while good wears the face of evil, and he is lied to at every turn.

I approach each new Three Pines novel with great anticipation because I love the village and its populace. I always hope to present a five-star rating, because I do enjoy the books so much; however, I seldom award that rating. They usually get a solid four stars, but that’s not the case for this book; the endless ruminations over possible murder scenarios were repetitive and convoluted, and I eventually tuned out most of those conversations. In addition, Riene-Marie Gamache’s contribution to her husband’s investigation, through her completely unrelated consulting job, is so highly contrived that it’s not believable.

I’ve rated The Madness of Crowds at 3.5 stars.

Do I recommend listening? Absolutely! Because there are more references to past events than usual, you will have a better grasp of context if you’ve been reading all along, so it’s suggested that you read the books in order. If you’re not willing to do that, you might want to read Bury Your Dead, or even find a summary of the book online to get some background on one of the main characters. The good news is that this book actually takes place in Three Pines, and “Downton Abbey” actor Robert Brathurst delivers another beautifully narrated work.

By the way – here’s a little YouTube video in which Louise Penny explains how she created the character of Armand Gamache and the village of Three Pines; it’s not long, and you might enjoy it:

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