Louise Penny just keeps getting better. The Madness of Crowds is number seventeen in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and I am now just one book away from being caught up. So many books to read, too little time!
As always, she’s composed a multilayered novel with the diverse, well-drawn characters I’ve come to love. It’s best to read her books in order, but she does a fine job referencing events from previous books to keep new readers in the loop.
The Madness of Crowds is about man’s inhumanity to man (or woman’s inhumanity to woman, whatever the case may be). Chief Inspector Gamache’s winter holiday is interrupted when he is asked to provide security during a professor’s lecture at a nearby university, a task well above his pay grade as the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec.
Curious, Armand looks into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers a vile agenda. She argues pandemics can be eliminated by a program of mandatory euthanasia of groups such as the elderly and the disabled. During her presentation, an audience member fires a shot at her, narrowly missing. People around Canada become unhinged, some in agreement with her views, some who are horrified.When a related murder takes place in the village of Three Pines at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team investigate the crime. Plenty of misdirection ensues.There sure are a lot of murders in tiny Three Pines!
This was a terrific plot full of suspense and ethical dilemmas, but I’m sick of reading about Covid. This is her only book that I didn’t tear through—I actually paused reading for a few months before picking it up again. 4 stars.