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Books – Review of The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny – 2021- Impressive Story

by AniM
the madness of crowds
The Madness of Crowds Book Cover

Book Review – The Madness of Crowds – Impressive Story

My Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Plot Summary – The Madness of Crowds

Once in a while, you read a book which impresses and affects you for reasons other than the genre would lead you to expect. The Madness of Crowds is one such book. The author sets out to give us a thriller, which in a way it essentially is, but it is also a statement on human morals, a psychological jigsaw puzzle where the final picture is not clear – not because of the artist – but because the question itself has many answers, none of wich are totally wrong! Inspector Armand Gamache, Head of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec in Montreal, Canada is an enigmatic character.

In this 17th edition, he is the elderly statesman amongst a bunch of sharp minded, intelligent detectives. So, when he is asked to provide security to a visting Statistics Professor, Abigail Robinson – in the sleepy nondescript hamlet of Three Pines, he is a little perplexed. But on looking a little closely at the Professor’s leanings and the content of her speech, Gamache discovers that she is quite polarizing in her theme. What she proposes, is a data backed culling of the weaklings of society – the old and the young, who are ill or handicapped, such that they are a drain on society’s resources – so that only the fit are left.

The Madness of Crowds Book Trailer

In a mix of euthanasia or mercy killing, she proposes that those with Down’s Syndrome or Dementia be eased from this life, so that the fit and able survive. With her charisamtic speeches, she is slowly getting more and more people to swing around to her views, and her speeches are becoming hotbeds of trouble – from a lawkeepers’ point of view. But trouble is not so much expected in Three Pines, as not many people are expected to turn up. But they do, and chaos ensues! Then at a New Years’ party soon after, another woman is brutally murdered. Inspector Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lamont form the core team who investigate the happenings and the murder.

There are numerous characters here, many of whom could have the motive and opportunity to have committed the murder – including another visiting dignitary – Haniya Daoud, the Star of Sudan and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Most people do not agree with Professor Robinson’s views and some would resort to violence to stop the spread of her vitriolic thoughts. Through painstaking sessions of following up on her past and all associations, the investigators stumble upon many a skeleton in her closet and it is never clear as to who commits the murder and why. Amidst all the brainstorming and following up on myriad threads, emerges a sordid saga of pain and deception.

the madness of crowds book cover
The Madness of Crowds

Conclusion – Book Review of The Madness of Crowds

As I said at the beginning, this is a thriller, a novel on police detective work but it largely never feels just that. Layer upon layer of intrigue is slowly unravelled to unveil the true nature of the perpetrator. It is replete with psychological analyses and political conflicts and characters are beautifully constructed. More than a normal detective novel, it is a lesson in poignant storytelling, where the detection work becomes secondary, the intrigue and horrors of the past claim primacy. It is relentless in its pursuit of evisceration of multiple human characteristics and laying bare basic human nature. Those who have read earlier Inspector Gamache novels would know what I’m talking about.

If you want to think, savor and enjoy an intellectually challenging concept, thinly veiled as a thriller, this is a must read. My only grouse would be that it could probably been shorter, at a few points it seems to meander a bit when the story kind of stagnates, but I’m just nitpicking here! Go ahead and grab a copy!!

the madness of crowds author
Louise Penny – Author of The Madness of Crowds

*I hope you have enjoyed reading this book review as much as I have enjoyed writing this! Do watch this space for more such reviews and navigate through the links below for more… Thank you!! *

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