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Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Review

Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec was suspended six months ago after his fateful decision to allow a small amount of a lethal derivative of the opioid fentanyl to be smuggled across the American-Canadian border. This led to the arrest of the members of a large international drug ring and seizure of the drug. The gamble paid off, and the small amount of fentanyl that slipped through has been destroyed. But concerns loom that the remainder is still hidden somewhere in Montreal and is being cut and prepared for distribution. Gamache has returned with his wife, Reine-Marie, to his home in the idyllic community of Three Pines to await the verdict on his career.

Surrounded by family and old friends, Gamache is enjoying the respite from police business when he receives an official-looking letter from a solicitor, asking him to meet at a rural address near Three Pines. As directed, he arrives in a falling snow at 10:00am at a dilapidated old farmhouse. One other car, lightly dusted by snow, is parked in front of the tumbledown building. Soon he is surprised to be joined by Myrna Landers, owner of the local bookstore, who has received the same invitation. Another vehicle appears, containing a stranger in a pickup truck, who also has been summoned to the meeting. They spot the figure of a man in the window who steps out to greet them. Together they learn that the three of them have been named executors of the will of an elderly woman, Bertha Baumgartner, who they have never even met.

"[KINGDOM OF THE BLIND is] Penny’s most intriguing novel yet. She artfully laces the history of long-held misbegotten greed with current-day drug smuggling into a morality tale for the times."

And so begins another spellbinding mystery that only Louise Penny can spin. Her latest adventure takes us back 132 years to Austria, where a wealthy Jewish baron and his family fled the Nazis. Bertha turns out to be a cleaning woman who lived near Three Pines and had always insisted on people addressing her as the Baroness. She was thought to be delusional even by her own family. But was she? It was her will, claiming to bequeath millions to her heirs, that Gamache, Myrna and this young man are requested to litigate.

This is just the beginning of Penny’s most intriguing novel yet. She artfully laces the history of long-held misbegotten greed with current-day drug smuggling into a morality tale for the times.

Gamache’s son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, now the acting Chief Inspector of homicide, tries desperately to track down this deadly derivative of fentanyl that they fear is about to be released to the streets of Montreal. He and his team are urgently searching for the whereabouts of the raw drug. Gamache has made another perilous decision that will assuredly seal his fate and could potentially cost lives, all in an effort to stop the release of the deadliest street drug in history.

Louise Penny fans will not be disappointed as they wrap themselves in the beauty of her writing. She threads this spine-chilling tale of murder and deceit together with the humor and warm atmosphere of the mythical village of Three Pines. As a building snowstorm cuts off the village, we revisit the poet, Ruth, and her profane duck, Rosa; the B&B hoteliers, Gabri and Olivier; the haunted portrait artist, Clara; and Gamache’s family. It is Clara’s famous painting, The Virgin Mary, a bewildering portrait of Ruth, that is the key to the whole mystery.

Sadly, it was just two years ago that Penny’s husband, Michael Whitehead, passed away after a lingering illness. Michael had been an integral part of her writing; he was the man upon whom she patterned Armand Gamache. Penny thought that GLASS HOUSES would mark the conclusion of the series, but inspiration, the love of her characters, and fond memories of her husband led her back to it. We couldn’t be more rewarded that she has brought us KINGDOM OF THE BLIND, perhaps her best Gamache novel to date.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on November 27, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
by Louise Penny

  • Publication Date: November 27, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250066204
  • ISBN-13: 9781250066206