Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

It's always difficult to review one of Louise Penny's books. The plots are so entwined with the characters that it's not easy to summarize the book without revealing too much. It's release date for Kingdom of the Blind, the first book Penny wrote after her beloved husband died. There are traces of Michael, traces of loss in the book. But, there's also courage and determination. David Singleton from the Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Library said "It may be her most personal book."

Armand Gamache is presently suspended from his position as Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Quebec pending investigation into events the previous summer. But, he and Reine-Marie are quite content in Three Pines, the home that has become their refuge. That doesn't mean Gamache is idle. He's still planning to retrieve the drugs, the opiates that have not yet been released into the streets. He's watching for their distribution.

Gamache also receives a strange letter inviting him to a desolate spot. Penny opens the book on a suspenseful note as Gamache pulls in by a deserted house, and there's a figure watching. But, Gamache is soon joined by Myrna Landers, the bookstore owner in Three Pines. It seems they are two of three people named as executors of a will, and neither of them knew the deceased.

As always, Penny plays with the reader, laying out several storylines. There's the will. There's Gamache's watchfulness for the opiate distribution. One string in Penny's web involves a former cadet at the police academy who is back on the streets. She also plays with poor Jean-Guy Beauvoir's emotions. He's Acting Head of Homicide, but also Gamache's son-in-law, a husband and father. And, the government continues to interview Gamache's team, including Jean-Guy, as they search for answers to their dilemma. What are they going to do about Armand Gamache?

One reviewer said "Kingdom of the Blind is easily one of the best in the series." I'm afraid I have to disagree. How the Light Gets In and A Great Reckoning are the two best, in my opinion. I found a few problems with this book, and, towards the end, it felt a little repetitive. But, a Louise Penny book, even a lesser one, is still better than 90% of the books I read.

Louise Penny always challenges the reader to understand there is light and kindness in the world. She brings together a group of characters we've grown to love, and shows that their love and community is strong, a fortress against the evil in the world. Her books are about love and kindness and people who care. There are whispers of her own loss in this book. She makes no secret that her husband had dementia, and some of her whispers tear at the heart. "The memory of the heart was far stronger than whatever was kept in the mind."

Maybe that's what Kingdom of the Blind, and Louise Penny's other books really say to readers. "The memory of the heart was far stronger than whatever was kept in the mind."

Louise Penny's website is www.louisepenny.com

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books, 2018. ISBN 9781250066206 (hardcover), 389p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

10 comments:

Charlotte said...

I am so behind in reading her books.
As much as I love her writings it will be quite awhile before I will be reading her books.
More books than time is the problem.

Kaye Barley said...

I agree with what you said - " . . . better than 90% of the books I read." I will drop whatever I'm doing, often put aside the book that I'm reading to read a Louise Penny novel. I hope the Three Pines series lasts forever. I'll admit though that I felt the same as the reviewer who thought this might have been one of the best. It may have been the whispers of Michael, and the glimpses on Louise's loss, but this one touched me in a little deeper, tugged at me in ways I didn't expect. Or, it may simply be that Louise's magic strikes me blind to what may not be perfect. I LOVE this - - - "The memory of the heart was far stronger than whatever was kept in the mind." Excellent review, Lesa. Thank You!

Lesa said...

What a wonderful problem to have, Charlotte! You'll get there eventually.

Lesa said...

And, I loved Myrna. I think we've been waiting for her to be featured in one of the books. Thank you, Kaye. I love that line, too. It was the line that stuck with me from the entire book. I always set aside one day to read Louise's book. Last year, I went back and reread it the following weekend. Perhaps if I reread this one it will touch me as much as it did you. There are still others of hers that I liked more, books that surprised me more than this one did.

Kaye Barley said...


Myrna! I feel like there is still so much to learn about her!

And yes, I agree (again!) regarding How the Light Gets In and A Great Reckoning, two of my very favorites.

Lesa said...

I love Myrna. I hope we do learn more about her.

Sally B said...

My copy just arrived - one of my favorite authors. A friend had never read any of her books until recently so she’s started reading them in order.I so envy her - all those wonderful books to looke forward to.

Anonymous said...

I read it yesterday and I loved it. LOVED it. I can't wait to reread it so I can savor Louise's writing without charging through to find out how the mysteries end. And such endings. Wow!

Bonnie K. said...

I love her books. I'm going to have to wait until after Christmas to buy it as I have it on my wish list. There's a very good chance someone will get it for me.

Lesa said...

You're right, Sally. I envy the opportunity to discover the books.

Anonymous - I'm so glad you loved the book!

Bonnie - I hope you get a copy for Christmas!