Saturday, May 15, 2021

Review: All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny

by Louise Penny
Release Date: September 1st 2020
2020 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 439 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250145239
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.5 / 5 Stars
On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession, it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour Eiffel to the bowels of the Paris Archives and from luxury hotels to odd, coded works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.
My Thoughts
All the Devils are Here is the next instalment in the Armand Gamache police proceduural series, and I was quite happy for the action to take place in Paris, surrounded by Armand's family. Paris is a very important city for the author, and at the end of the previous novel, I was hoping that something like this would happen.  
One of the biggest strengths of this series has always been the character development and the relationships between the characters.  This one focuses more on the dynamics between Daniel and his father, and although I knew there had been difficulties in the past, it wasn't until this book that the relationship has really been explored.  And while, at first, I was sort of skeptical as to the seriousness of the divide between them, as someone who is married to a military man, I could actually see how Daniel's fears developed and grew, to the point where he didn't know how to deal with them and they became a huge issue.  Children's fears, while sometimes trivial to adults, can consume them and overwhelm them and we often forget that in the grand scheme of our daily lives.  And how often have adults reverted to childlike behaviour when confronted when their own parents' shortcoming, or when they don't understand what is happening? I'm not saying I enjoyed this drama as it felt a bit forced and juvenile, but misunderstandings happen for years in families for reasons no one knows, sometimes for just the simplest things. 
I love Armand as a character, but one of my criticisms over the years is that he is too perfect, too controlled.  I like flawed characters which I why I have always been more fond of Jean-Guy than Armand as he is impulsive, learning to develop the absolute control that Armand displays all the time, thinking it's a flaw when it's human nature.  To be highly intelligent, highly perceptive, highly in control of a situation does not mean you don't lose you &)) once in a while when things are tough.  
So, while the character development has always been a strength, I'm not sure that it really was in this book. For a while now, I have felt like the characters have not really grown, and a lot of their interactions has come to expressions of love and endearments.  Nothing really wrong with that except that it gets tiresome when it is repeated over and over again.  The author's ability to create really quirky characters has lagged the past couple of books, notwithstanding the citizens of Three Pines, who weren't really in this instalment.  
The story line is a bit of a departure from the previous books, and not just because it takes place in France.  The author tries to go global this time, and I don't quite think she pulls it off, but it was interesting none the less.  There are a lot of twists and turns, and there were times I wasn't quite sure who to trust; however, the author's writing style was able to draw me right into the story and keep me glued.  There were times though, when I did shake my head and think, no way, did she actually go there?   Suspension of belief is fast becoming a new norm.  

All the Devils Are Here is an improvement from the previous two books, and I enjoyed the overall story, more due to the author's ability to draw me into the story than the story itself though. I did feel like the overall plot was a bit far-fetched, especially in the last quarter of the book, and I would have liked a bit more between Daniel and his father.  However, I did enjoy the Paris setting of the book and could visualize a lot of the places that were mentioned, but I have to admit I was a bit surprised at the mention of the Resistance and other stuff in this book as the author tends to stray away from popular stuff like that.  But who knows where one of her next story lines is headed and this may be  important? And will I be reading book 17? With baited breath!!


  1. A good review. I'm familiar with the author's name but haven't read any of her work.