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Tandem Readalong Round Up: The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny

Recently I took part in Tandem Collective‘s readalong for Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds. This was over on Instagram, where as you might have noticed I rarely post, mostly because things like reels and stories are beyond me – I just can’t seem to get them to work for me! I thought it might be fun to do a little round up here and on Instagram, so you can learn a bit more about the book.

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Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny’s latest spellbinding novel, The Madness of Crowds.

You’re a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

I think he’ll open a serious investigation, it could have gone horribly wrong and people could have died.

I’m not sure, much like the agents, I can’t quite figure it all out. Armand is also thinking a few steps ahead of his team and seems to be planning to get a confession.

I thought this was a really interesting theory and can see how it applies to people getting swept up into Abigail’s rhetoric and also how her theory could lead to truly terrible things – like genocide, what one country does, others may follow.

Armand obviously has skin in the game, as it were, in the form of Idola, but Myrna is a scientist and isn’t thinking about it in an emotional sense – more the theoretical sense.

I don’t think she can be involved, too many coincidences would need to align to involve her. But she does represent an interesting addition to the debate raging throughout the book. Suspect-wise, I’m curious about Abigail, who has so many secrets and the chancellor – she knows more than she’s saying.

I’m at a loss, too many theories. Too many possibilities – lots of potential red herrings on offer here.

Gamache definitely has something but I think he needs to flesh it out a bit more if he wants to make an arrest and get a conviction.

I thought it was possibly the chancellor, protecting Abigail once again – but she had something to lose if she went to prison – her husband wouldn’t cope without her. I’ve read a few of the books before and have some on my kindle to go back to.

Armand – maybe Jean Reno, Isabelle, I thought perhaps Carole Bianic who played a French cop in Hudson & Rex (yes of course I watch a TV show where one of the detectives is a lovely, clever good boy), Jean-Guy I would maybe cast Roger Cross, who is Jamaican-Canadian and has played cops before and I like as an actor.

Jean Reno
Carole Bianic
Roger Cross

I couldn’t do the reel as my phone and I had a massive fight and I may have thrown it on the floor and shouted “technology is stupid”, I mean I like books and the concept of the printed word isn’t exactly new. That is basically my level of tech prowess.

As for flatlays, I am apparently not allowed to go and get a hunk of wood (the murder weapon) or some disabled people (Abigail’s theory) and photograph them on my floor so please enjoy the photo I took of the book instead.

I really enjoyed this book and having to think about different points in the book in more detail than maybe I would otherwise. Having read a few of the books in this series before I felt like I knew a bit about the characters but since this is set in the village Gamache lives in I learnt more about his family and friends which was interesting. The ethical debate at the heart of the plot is one I know that divides and upsets lots of people. Assisted suicide is legal in Canada, unlike the UK, and Abigail has taken it to a logical, if morally lacking, extreme conclusion with her statistical research. It’s deliberately shocking and the different viewpoints that the characters put forward were thought provoking and engaging. A really clever and enjoyable book.

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books? If so, what did you think? What did you like or not like? Talk to me!

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