The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

What other author could bring together characters such as a Nobel Peace Prize nominee from the Sudan, a statistician arguing for mercy killing, a real book (Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, written in 1841), and real – very scary – people like Ewen Cameron (a psychiatric researcher whose experiments on unwitting patients led to torture guidelines used by the CIA)?  In my opinion, no one but Louise Penny.

In a post-pandemic world, head of Homicide for the Surete, Chief Inspector Gamache is asked to provide security for a controversial speaker at a small college near Three Pines, the tiny village where he lives.  As he researches the speaker, Professor Abigail Robinson, a noted statistician, he finds her conclusions repugnant, though they are finding support among many who hear her.  When Abby’s best friend/business partner is murdered, Gamache and his team find themselves exploring the past – as well as the nature of good and evil – in order to find the motive for the crime.

Despite what sounds like very heavy subject matter, this is an excellent read, with characters who are completely human, yet comfortable and a story that is compelling.  Penny – as always – entertains and creates opportunities for considering our own moral compass. 

Place a hold on this title.