The Madness of Crowds

Macmillan Audio. Aug. 2021. 14:51 hrs. ISBN 9781250810687. $32.99. M
When Armand Gamache is asked to provide security for a local university event, he’s baffled. Why would a lecture by a visiting statistician—in English, no less—need additional security? Then he looks into what Abigail Robinson will be discussing and discovers the dangerous, repugnant theories she espouses. And when someone shoots at her during the lecture and a friend of hers is murdered soon after, Gamache investigates, along with his second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Penny sets her latest series installment (following All the Devils Are Here) after the COVID pandemic, asking hard questions about the duty of care society owes its most vulnerable members. A seemingly random subplot—Reine-Marie Gamache taking on the task of sorting through the papers of a recently deceased elderly woman and trying to figure out why the woman compulsively drew monkeys—ends up providing an important connection. Robert Bathurst continues to provide exceptional narration, with strong characterizations for main and secondary characters alike, including vocalizations for poet Ruth Zardo’s pet duck.
VERDICT An essential purchase for libraries.
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