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The Madness of Crowds

The Madness of Crowds, the latest novel from Louise Penny, was my first exposure to this author’s series of Inspector Gamache mysteries, but certainly not my last. She has published sixteen in the series, and I can testify you need not know the background of the characters to enjoy the book.

The book seems to be written in three ‘acts.’

In Act One, Inspector Armand Gamache, head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec, is covering security at a university lecture by Abigail Robinson, a noted statistician. The reader wonders how a statistician has generated such large crowds and why her message has become so divisive. Penny keeps the reader guessing what that message could be for several chapters. It is so controversial that someone in the crowd takes a potshot at her during her lecture. Armand saves her from being injured, so there is no murder in this murder mystery as Act One ends.

Act Two opens with an explanation of Abigail Robinson’s awful proposal. There are plenty of people who would like to cause her harm, and now, Act Two ends with a murder.

Act Three contains revelations that lead to speculations as to who murdered the victim and why. If the book has a flaw, it is in its lengthy speculations. As would be expected, there are several surprises and Gamache breaks the case in the end.

Penny has produced yet another compelling work which intertwines important moral issues to ponder while speculating about who done it. I recommend it.

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