Book Review: All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny

Back Cover Blurb

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 d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, 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.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!” — William Shakespeare

What I thought

Let me say this, if Agatha Christie is considered to be the Queen of the Whodunit, then Louise Penny truly is (IMHO) the undisputed Empress of this genre. There is no doubt in my mind that Penny is the master of her art, as we can see quite clearly in ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, her 16th book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (Three Pines) series. 

From the opening sequence of a near tragic event to the closing paragraphs at the end, we are taken on an exploration and plumb the depths of human nature and emotion. From what makes people do what they do, to who they are, and what—throughout their lives—shape them. Penny has a finger on this pulse and exposes raw nerves and brutal emotion with carefully written prose, cleverly weaving so many seemingly random threads and events together that we’re never sure who is on the side of the angels, and who—exactly—all the devils of the book’s title are.

Masterful is not a word I use lightly, but Penny has gone from strength to strength with this series, building upon her characters with every book. So that in All the Devils are Here, we reach what felt like, a culmination of all her hard work. She’s created a world so utterly believable, we’re absorbed in to it on so many levels. It feels real, these characters feel real and, because of that, we connect with the unfolding events and the people caught up in them, in a very intimate way. 

From the moment we see the truck hit Gamache’s godfather, Stephen, after the family’s celebratory dinner, we know we are in for one hell of a roller coaster ride of torn emotions, frayed nerves, revelation, and genuine terror. 

We have to trust in Penny to guide us, along with Gamache, through a politically charged minefield of lies, corruption, and trail of murders stretching from the days the Nazis captured Paris through to the present day. And here is were—for me at least—her skill shines above the rest. Her ability to set the stage, carry us along at a blistering pace, absorb us into the tangled web of deceit and conflict, to blindside us as we try to figure out what’s going on, and then, up the ante by putting Gamache’s life on the line, so that it almost breaks us into tiny little pieces, emotionally and mentally.

Heart stopping, raw, emotional, this cleverly written whodunit is an outstanding and thrilling read on so many levels. Truly, Louise Penny at her utter best!

(Chief Inspector Gamache #16)
Louise Penny
Minotaur Books
Crime | Mystery