All The Devils Are Here, is the latest novel in Louise Penny’s series about Quebec homicide detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. However, unlike most of the earlier books this does not take place in the Canadian village of Three Pines; indeed, it isn’t sited in Canada at all. When I first realised that this novel was set in Paris, I have to admit I was concerned. Much as I like Gamache, I am just as drawn to Penny’s books by the wonderfully eccentric cast of characters that inhabit that small village close to the borders of Vermont. So much so, that I have been known to insist that the next house that comes up for sale in Three Pines is mine; however much it costs. How would I cope with a book that lacked the harum scarum Clara, the wise Myrna and the acerbic Ruth, not to mention the many delights of Gabri and Olivier‘s bistro? The answer, surprisingly, was much better than I expected. In fact, I think this is possibly Penny’s strongest novel since Bury Your Dead.
Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are in Paris for the birth of their daughter’s second child. Annie along with her husband, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, have moved to the French capital following Beauvoir’s resignation from the Sûreté du Québec to take up a position with GHS Engineering. Beauvoir is no engineer, a fact brought home to him by the barely disguised contempt of his second-in-command, Séverine Arbour. Why was the position offered to him? His talents lie in detection. Has he been placed in the company in order to ferret out some sort of wrongdoing? If he has, he doesn’t really know enough about the business to be able to spot any type of corruption that might be going on. Jean-Guy is frustrated; never a good situation.
Annie isn’t the only member of the Gamache family resident in France‘s chief city. Their son, Daniel, also lives there, working for a bank in the field of venture capital. It has been apparent throughout the series that, much to Armand’s distress, there is an estrangement between father and son but, unable to fathom the cause, Gamache has been able to do nothing about it. While Annie is delighted her parents are there, you get the feeling that Daniel would rather they were anywhere else on Earth.
The final member of the Gamache “family“ greets Armand on the night that he and Reine-Marie first arrive in Paris. Stephen Horowitz is Armand’s godfather. Now in his 90s, this immensely rich man, has been very much a father to the Chief Inspector after his parents died in a car accident when he was nine. Although German by birth Horowitz was a member of the French Resistance and has spent most of his life since then outing corruption in financial and business enterprises around the world. Leaving a restaurant where the family have been dining on that first night, Horowitz is the victim of a hit-and-run attack, clearly targeted at him and equally clearly intended to kill. When Armand and Jean-Guy then visit Stephen’s apartment and find a body there, it becomes apparent that mischief is afoot and that somehow it is linked to the upcoming GHS board meeting.
Of course, Gamache has not always been a “lowly“ Chief Inspector. His career has taken him to the very top and as a result he knows other top policeman around the world, including Claude Dussault, the Prefect of Paris Police so, when he feels that the assigned officers are not taking his insistence that Stephen was deliberately targeted seriously, Armand calls on his friend for assistance. But is Dussault to be trusted? Is it possible that the Prefect himself has been corrupted? Are Stephen’s claims of his part in the war valid? And, most troubling, can Gamache place his faith in those who are closest to him of all? Much of the novel turns on the question of who can and who cannot be trusted with Gamache really only able to depend entirely on Reine-Marie and Beauvoir.
You have to keep your wits about you during what is quite a substantial novel. There are many twists and turns before the reasons behind the murders and attempted murders are revealed and answers to the question of who is on whose side are fluid right up until the very dramatic conclusion. Big business and those who sit on the boards of such institutions do not come out of it well. Don’t trust anything manufactured might well be one message taken away by the reader; I may never get in a lift again! After Penny’s previous novel, A Better Man, which I thought was a disappointment, this is a very welcome return to form. If you are already a fan then I think you’ll enjoy it; if you have yet to meet Gamache and Beauvoir then I suggest you go back to the start of the series with Still Life, rather than beginning here, knowing that you have some very fine books ahead of you.
With thanks to Sphere and to NetGalley for a review copy.