With All the Devils Are Here, author Louise Penny takes readers on a fast-paced, complex ride featuring corporate intrigue and heart-pounding thrills. The book finds Inspector Gamache in Paris, visiting his godfather and adult children. But when a mysterious van hits and nearly kills his godfather, Gamache must start sleuthing to uncover why. This sets off a series of events that lead him toward the dark truth of a corporation called GHS. It’s a compelling plot that’s sure to please established fans of Louise Penny, though new readers may find it a bit more difficult to jump into.
Sweet Charm in a Speedy Package
The book reminded me of a Cara Black novel: scant description, tight dialogue, super brisk plot. Louise Penny knows how to sharply pack a sentence with both information and enough details to serve the purpose. And so, the plot skips along quickly, not lingering in any one place or with any one character for too long. Thriller readers will enjoy that athletic approach to the storytelling.
Also, readers familiar with the series will like the reappearance of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Reine-Marie, Annie, Daniel, and others who’ve appeared in previous books. It’s a warm family we feel close to. We know these people’s histories, their relationship dynamics. Penny wastes no time in making us part of their clan again. As wonderfully usual, sweetness permeates their interactions and reading about them feels like snuggling under a cozy blanket.
A Labyrinth in an Outline of Paris
While I was drawn to the book’s setting of Paris, I read the book yearning for more description. As those who’ve read my books know, I adore Paris, for all of its greatness and flaws. So when I jump into fiction (or narrative nonfiction) set in Paris, I want to see it, feel it, taste it, smell it, etc. I want to virtually travel there, immerse myself in the experience, and especially so with Louise Penny’s perspective, whose craft I admire so much. But the story didn’t include much. We do visit the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks, but I wished for fuller portraits. I wanted to stay a while.
Also, the plot, while admirably complete, unfolded like a complicated blueprint. Stephen Horowitz’s accident led Gamache to a murder, which led to magnetized nickels, and special screws, and initials, and stock trades, and art vandalism, and archived newspaper clippings, and corporate board wrangling. Throw in possible police corruption and father-son estrangement and you’ve got a plot that you may need to read twice to fully understand. I had a hard time keeping up, but maybe it’s just me. Lovers of Louise Penny’s work probably won’t bat an eye at this.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. That Penny can keep track of such an intricately woven plot with so many characters is amazing. She is a true master of storytelling. If you like fast-paced thrillers rooted in the bonds of family, you’ll enjoy All the Devils Are Here.