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.