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.
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.