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You’re a coward.
Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.
It starts innocently enough.
While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.
He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.
While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.
They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.
Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.
Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.
When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.
And the madness of crowds.
Louise Penny delivers with a perplexing murder mystery set in Three Pines that is also a nuanced look at conviction, delusion, and the tipping point between the two. It’s almost New Year’s in Québec when a request is made of Chief Inspector Gamache to provide security at a public event that brings a divisive figure into the orbit of Three Pines. Professor Abigail Robinson’s notoriety rests on weaponizing pandemic data in a bid to convince the public that it will become necessary to conserve resources by prioritizing some lives over others. And she’s succeeding, though her catchphrase, ça va bien aller—all will be well—now holds a terrible irony for the Gamache family. When a murderer strikes close to Robinson, Gamache and Jean-Guy have to separate their disquiet from their professional obligations. Urgent yet thoughtful, philosophical and suspenseful, The Madness of Crowds proves Penny just gets better with each novel. —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
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