Published by Minotaur Books
Publication date: November 27, 2018
Last Thursday one of the things I gave thanks for was the opportunity to head back to Three Pines and visit all its wonderful inhabitants in Louise Penny’s latest novel, Kingdom of the Blind. It’s the 14th book in her Chief Inspector Gamache series and finds Gamache suspended from the Sûreté. He’s being investigated for, among other things, letting the largest ever shipment of drugs slip through his fingers and into Canada. Not only that, but it’s new drug, a hundred times more potent than fentanyl. The story begins when Gamache and Myrna, a neighbor in Three Pines, are designated as executors for the estate of a woman they’ve never met. A cleaning woman with an estate that has no financial value, but a will that promises untold wealth.
Penny generates suspense on a number of fronts in Kingdom of the Blind. There is the mystery of the estate which can be traced back to a branch of the Rothschilds and a family divided by the Holocaust and a feud. Unraveling it requires finding obscure records going back to the 1800s. There is the race to recover the drugs before they hit the streets and cause an overdose epidemic. Finally, there is Gamache’s precarious position in the Sûreté and its impact on Beauvoir, his protégé, and the man acting as his replacement. He’s being pressured to turn on his mentor by signing papers that will end Gamache’s career.
In the midst of all the drama Penny doesn’t neglect the townspeople of Three Pines in all their irascible wit and charm. Everyone has their part to play and each does it effortlessly, a not-inconsequential feat on Penny’s part. How do you keep an entire town of characters fresh and interesting for 14 books? Even a small town? It can only be through devotion and care and Penny has an unlimited supply of both. It makes for reading that always welcomes with humor and intelligence.
The only difference I felt about this book is that it’s less about the mystery—which is fine but not riveting, and more about the sea change happening within the main characters’ lives. Suffice it to say, everything is turned upside-down and I’m still trying to decide what it means. If you’re a fan of the series, prepare to be blown away by the end of Kingdom of the Blind.