Timely and thrilling, this 17th entry is one of the series’ most rewarding ... satisfying both as an intricate crime-solving procedural and as an opportunity to revisit Three Pines, the community Penny has built, story upon story, since Still Life in 2005 ... satisfying both as an intricate crime-solving procedural and as an opportunity to revisit Three Pines, the community Penny has built, story upon story, since Still Life”in 2005 ... The mystery may be the main course, but the side dishes — the food for thought, and the food at the Bistro; the people and their lives and, yes, loves; and certainly the setting itself — combine to create a full banquet for readers, one liberally seasoned with dry humor. The Madness of Crowds is one of the richest and most satisfying banquets yet.
Penny has hit on a plot that best melds together her characters, themes, places, and purposes. The story probably wouldn’t be quite so affecting if all its components hadn’t been so thoroughly developed over the course of the series ... The plot’s relationship to current events is what makes the story work. No reader can escape the relevance of both surface and subterranean issues at play. At the same time, readers can understand the different viewpoints of the characters as the narrative shifts among them ... 'Correct and right were two different things. As were facts and truth.' Penny’s literary gift is to humanize this difficult concept. And while all of her novels feel like they are driven by passion, this one especially feels like it came out of the author in one huge, inspired wave ... Don’t be surprised if she receives an award for this one.
The series has always excelled when Penny takes time to think through the ramifications of human behavior at its best and its worst, as filtered through Three Pines’ idiosyncratic characters. This new novel grapples successfully with the moral weight of its narrative, even if the plotting falters somewhat in the last third. 'All will be well' never sounded so menacing.
Penny’s latest offers little in the way of a soothing balm for nerves frayed by months of isolation and quarantine. Its chills don’t come from the icy winter temperatures in Quebec but from the dystopian story line and its uncomfortable reminder of some of the worst days of the pandemic ... The best mysteries and thrillers rise to the level of social novels, presenting readers opportunities to confront the difficult issues we face. Penny’s novels have always been driven by this (as well as the love of family and friends). The Madness of Crowds may be one of Penny’s darkest works, but we can still find comfort in the natural beauty of Three Pines and the quirky residents we would love to have as our neighbors.
Somber stuff, but Penny handles it with a light touch, weaving in lively scenes with her familiar cast of Gamache’s colorful neighbors ... In earlier novels, these totally unbelievable characters have been overused and tedious. In the present tale, however, they appear sparingly, and Ruth plays a significant role in directing Gamache to some pertinent facts that may have eluded him.
Ms. Penny’s 17th entry in her intelligent and emotionally powerful series featuring Gamache. Once again, the author has produced a unique work twining moral issues and absorbing character studies into a challenging murder mystery ... at the very last moment, the chief inspector—in a manner worthy of Aesop, Solomon, Freud or Holmes—points the finger of guilt.
Always a master plotter, Penny brilliantly combines this main story line with a profusion of subplots that bring together multiple interconnected themes, all raising thought-provoking questions about ethics and human relationships in a post-COVID world. Gamache’s longtime belief in our common humanity is severely tested here, but, finally, it is that belief and the actions deriving from it that seem to offer the only balm for our lingering bruises.
This book has layers within layers: good versus evil; our duty to the weak; the nature of power; the fact that good people are not always likable, and likable people are not always good. Penny’s familiar characters are back, along with some intriguing visitors. The mystery will keep readers absorbed until the end and might make them realize how this unprecedented pandemic has changed the world. Highly recommended for public libraries.
... brilliant ... Seamlessly integrating debates about scientific experimentation and morality into a fair-play puzzle, Penny excels at placing her characters in challenging ethical quandaries. This author just goes from strength to strength.