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.