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The Madness of Crowds

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

Chief Inspector Gamache Book 17

By Louise Penny

A Thought-Provoking Social Issue Combined with Intriguing Characters and Mystery Writing at its Finest



Abigail Robinson, a professor of Statistics, has been invited to lecture at a college near Three Pines. Armand Gamache, Head of Homicide at the Surete in Quebec, has been requested to provide security. It’s the middle of the holiday festivities and the weather is dangerously cold. It’s strange timing for a statistics lecture. But when Gamache learns of the lecture’s subject matter, he is horrified. He begs the college to cancel the speech to no avail, the college arguing academic freedom and censorship.

Abigail Robinson’s lecture promises “all will be well” in the era following the pandemic if her recommendations are followed. Since resources will be limited in the future, Robinson argues that steps need to be taken to reduce the elderly and infirm population. Her proposal causes immense division, debates, and divisiveness. When shots are fired during the lecture, Gamache risks his life to protect Robinson and calls for calm. The following day, a friend of Robinson’s is murdered in Three Pines and left for dead in the snow. Gamache and his team investigate the crimes amidst the brewing controversy. Was it a case of mistaken identity, an attempt to stifle Robinson’s message, an attempt at sympathy, or perhaps even revenge?

“As they trudged through the snow toward Clara’s pretty little cottage, Ruth lost her footing. Haniya grabbed her before she fell. She held Ruth’s hand for the rest of the way, and wondered if maybe the key was not in being held, but in holding.”


Author Louise Penny creates a relevant, entertaining, and poignant murder mystery in her seventeenth Armand Gamache novel. THE MADNESS OF CROWDS starts with a highly controversial ethical debate that will have you seething—combine that with several potentially untrustworthy characters and its mystery at its finest. You don’t know what to think or who to believe.

Penny’s writing about social issues gives us plenty of food for thought, which is precisely what makes this book and this series so delightful. I can’t get enough. When asked if this series must be read in order, I say start wherever you want, the beginning, the end, it doesn’t matter, just start reading them now. You’ll be glad you did!

I listened to the audiobook for THE MADNESS OF CROWDS. The narrator did a fabulous job differentiating the characters and bringing the story to life with perfect pitch and pacing

“The madness of crowds was a terrible thing to see. The madness of police with clubs and guns was even worse.“

The trick wasn’t necessarily having less fear, it was finding more courage.”

Publisher Macmillian Audio Minotaur

Published August 24, 2021

Narrated Robert Bathurst

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