September 14, 2021
Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Mystery/Detective, Police Procedural, Canada, post Pandemic
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
The Madness of Crowds is the seventeenth installment of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series. Although I recommend reading the series in order, this particular book is easily read as a stand alone.
As the New Year’s celebration approaches and the residents of Three Pines enjoy snow sports and hot chocolate in the bistro, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is asked to provide security for a visiting professor who is giving a lecture at a nearby university. At first glance, it seems like an easy enough assignment, but then he realizes that the professor has a repulsive agenda that Gamache can’t endorse. He urges the university to cancel the lecture, but they cite academic freedom and the event proceeds. When a murder occurs, Gamache and his team will need to set aside their personal convictions and find the killer.
“Strange things happen when gullibility and fear meet greed and power.”
It’s Complicated: Honestly, I have a lot of complicated feelings about this new installment from Louise Penny. I’m a huge fan of the series, but this one was a bit underwhelming for me and I have some complicated feelings. There’s so much hatred and controversy in the media right now that to read about a similar scenario in an escapist read might be too much.
Controversy: First, I must mention that Penny attempts a difficult topic in the book (mandated euthanasia of elderly and disabled of all ages) and manages to present both sides effectively. Gamache’s struggle between his personal convictions and free speech is compelling and the argument for and against is thoroughly explored. In fact, Gamache is so conflicted that I wondered if he was capable of doing his job and leading his team. Penny is to be commended for exploring a complex and controversial topic.
Execution: The greatest weakness of the story for me is that it lagged in the middle. Perhaps Gamache’s struggle and conflicted emotions spilled over into the police procedural and pacing aspects of the story. To me, the investigation became repetitive and circular….going around and around without any progress….like a hamster on a wheel. I became bored and stopped caring about any of the characters and just wanted Penny to bring the story to an end. In fact, I admit to skimming good portions of the latter half of the book.
Lack of Subplots: One of the reasons I love the Three Pines series is for its subplots involving family relationships, backstories of the team members, corruption in the police department, and/or political problems with bureaucracy. This story was simply focused on the problematic topic and I think the complexity of that didn’t leave room to explore subplots or other themes. I was especially disappointed to see only a brief mention of Daniel and no reference to the family dynamics after the dramatic conclusion to All the Devils Are Here.
Recommended: I think readers who love a complex and controversial topic might like The Madness of Crowds. Fans of the Three Pines series will want to read it and other reviewers have given glowing reviews which you might want to check out. Overall, this is a good story but I was underwhelmed and it won’t be a favorite for me in the series.
Content Consideration: Euthanasia, post Pandemic, death of a child (in the past), suicide (in the past)
My Rating: 3 Stars
Meet the Author, Louise Penny
LOUISE PENNY is the author of the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (seven times), and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture. Louise lives in a small village south of Montréal.
Is The Madness of Crowds on your TBR or have you read it?
Have you read other books in the Three Pines series?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
Let’s Get Social!
Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.
***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.