Mimi Jones Hedwig 

Writer, Editor, Animal Advocate

Book review blog

Louise Penny, I take it back!

Posted by mhedwig on January 31, 2021 at 2:20 PM

My review, below, of A BETTER MAN, was regretfully not positive. But Louise Penny returns in the fine form that has made me a loyal reader with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, #16 in her series featuring the Quebecois detective Armand Gamache.  

At the end of A BETTER MAN, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Gamache's son-in-law, former second-in-command in the Surete de Quebec, and close friend, has accepted a position in Paris, leaving behind police work for an executive position in a multinational engineering corporation. In this new novel, the Gamaches go to the City of Light to visit the Beauvoirs and be present for the birth of Jean-Guy's and Annie's second child. They also want to see their son, Daniel, and his family, and to renew their friendship with Stephen Horowitz, an elderly billionaire who is Armand's godfather.

On their first night, as the three families and Stephen are walking back from dinner, a car strikes down Horowitz and speeds away, clearly intending to kill him. As Stephen lingers near death in the hospital, Gamache and Beauvoir delve into the inner workings of Beauvoir's new employer and uncover secrets that someone considers worth murder to protect...

Paris is a welcome change from Three Pines, the sweet little Quebec village where the Gamaches have retired that, sadly, has come close to becoming a caricature of itself in recent novels. This book has a complexity and tensile strength, a vividly described and fascinating setting, and a twisty mystery that weaves together technology, history, and art. A newly revealed, or at least fully-explored, conflict between Armand Gamache and his son Daniel is a painfully realistic portrayal of how old misunderstandings between children and their parents can have a toxic half-life into adulthood. It comes near, in this case, to having a fatal consequence. 

The book is overall a moving exploration of the power of family love -- the definition of family extended to include those friends dearest to the heart. This is a theme at which Louise Penny excels. An affecting surprise at the end affirms the ferocious strength of that love, and left me in tears. 

Categories: Fiction