Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

First Sentence: Armand Gamache slowed his car to a crawl, then stopped on the snow-covered secondary road.

Armand Gamache, former head of the Sûreté du Quebec, Myrna Landers, a bookseller, and a young builder have been named as liquidators (executors) for the will of an apparent stranger.  But why the three of them, and not the woman's children? And how does a murder play into the disposition?  Of greater concern to Gamache is locating the highly dangerous missing drugs over which Gamache was suspended.  Cadet Amelia Choquet, a former prostitute and drug user, has been kicked out of the Sûreté Academy for possession. What is her connection? One instinctively knows these threads will join; or will they.  One is compelled to find out.  
     
Reading Louise Penny can be a very personal experience.  It can take one back to childhood with the inclusion of a favourite poem, the memory of meeting a special author and a very kind man before dementia clouded his memories or a lovely, but simple, childhood song.  For those who have read the series from the beginning, it is a reminder as to why these books have become important to us.  For new readers, it is a welcome to, yet a reminder of, life's truth that—"Things sometimes fell apart unexpectedly.  It was not necessarily a reflection of how much they were valued." And haven't we all, at some point, proclaimed that we are FINE, hoping a listener would truly understand.
     
Although each book stands on its own, much is gained by having read the previous books. Not only do the characters and their relationships become better known, but one then truly feels a part of the Village of Three Pines.  One of the things of which readers may be assured is that Penny's characters don't stagnate.  They evolve and grow, certainly no one's more than Jean-Guy, acting head of homicide, and Gamache's son-in-law

There are so many dynamic, strong characters; characters one comes to know and who become personal and real, such as Myrna, Gabri, Clara, Ruth and Rosa, the duck. A new character, Benedict, is appealing.  The poetry battle between him and Ruth is delightful.  Isabelle Lacoste, now the head of homicide, is the type of person one wants to be; determined, trusted by someone one admires, and wise.  Agent Cloutier is transferred into a department she dislikes and is stuck there by circumstances.  It is the realness of her character which is so appealing, as it is she who brings a touch of humour and veracity to the story, but also an opportunity to witness her growth.  Ruth, who, for all her eccentricities, has a sense of clarity. 

Most of all, there is Armand Gamache, a man guided by a code of conduct—the four statements that lead to wisdom, whose underlying foundation is kindness, but is far from naïve and understands, too well, Matthew 10:36.  Even the title, when one learns the meaning behind it, not only makes perfect sense but is something one may tuck away and remember.
     
It is the story's balance which makes Penny so remarkable.  This is not a cozy which ignores the hard realities; especially those of Gamache's job and responsibilities, of the losses or injuries, or the often-overlooked fact that—"When a murder was committed, more than one person died."  Penny also acknowledges the importance of being conscious and remembering the good things; the things one loves.  There is wisdom here.  One need only take the time to absorb it.

In case one is concerned about a lack of suspense, fear not.  There is a situation which causes one to catch one's breath and fear for the safety, if not lives, of the characters.  Yet even then, there is the reminder of hope through the explanation of the book's title.

"Kingdom of the Blind" has a well-done twist and a wonderful summation containing humour, love, and is bittersweet.  This is an excellent and somewhat more complex book than those in the past, and it certainly provides an interesting transition for the books to come.

KINGDOM OF THE BLIND (Pol Proc-Armand Gamache-Canada-Contemp) – Ex
Penny, Louise – 14th in series
Minotaur Books – Nov 2018

6 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this one! I think Louise Penny is extremely skilled, and her ability to balance things in a story is one of those skills. I like the ongoing characters and relationships, too.

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  2. The ending had me wondering if... could this be the last one? But my friend who just finished it says "Of course not!".

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  3. Loved your review, you are spot on. Was tempted to read review before book, but finished book yesterday. Another amazing book.

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  4. Who was David...the father whose name was given to the drug?

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    1. Yes, it's on page 363, toward the bottom. I'm not going to type it in case of it being a spoiler to someone. :)

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