Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

kingdom of the blind

After receiving a mysterious letter from a notary who had been dead for six-months, Armand Gamache, the suspended head of the Sûreté du Québec arrives at a rundown farmhouse in a secluded area on a snowy evening. There Armand finds out that he along with Myrna Landers, his neighbour in Three Pines and Benedict Pouliot, a young builder from Montreal have been named executors of a will of a woman named Bertha Baumgartnor who once owned this desolate place. None of them has ever met Bertha or known her, so they are baffled why a total stranger would appoint them as her estate’s liquidators. But the son of the dead notary, who had used his father’s stationery to summon them all to the house, ensures them that Bertha was of sound mind at the time she wrote her will! Although the trio has doubts about taking up this responsibility, they are intrigued enough to agree to carry out Bertha’s last wishes. And soon they find out that Bertha was none other than the cleaning lady at Three Pines who insisted on being called Baroness! The residents at Three Pines had always pegged it to be one of her eccentricities. However, the contents of her will reveal that Bertha had left buildings in Geneva and Vienna and $5 million each to her grown children, on top of the Baron title to her eldest son, making them wonder if this was more than an old woman’s fantasy.

While this question of inheritance followed by a murder plays an integral part of the story, there is another plot-line involving Armand’s past. We learn that Armand had successfully run a narcotics operation which took down a major drug cartel in Canada, but he had done so by releasing some drugs onto the streets. Armand had managed to recover most of it back, yet during the operation, a new drug called Carfentanil had gone missing. Carfentanil is extremely dangerous and way more potent than Heroine or Fentanyl, so Armand is willing to do anything to get them back. In Kingdom of the Blind, Louise Penny cleverly intertwines these two story-lines together, and the result, at least for me, was a solid 3-star crime novel.

There are many things to like about Kingdom of the Blind. It’s a pretty straightforward crime and an investigation, and from the onset, you get the feeling that Armand and Jean-Guy, Armand’s son-in-law/ acting head of the Sûreté du Québec are good, decent cops who can be trusted. Because I inherently dislike novels featuring corrupt law officials, the way their characters were written was a plus for me. I also liked the strong sense of community that’s embodied in the narrative. Three Pines is a charming small town, where residents regularly get together to have good food and conversation, making me wish I lived there! 😀

As I dived straight into the story without bothering to read its excerpt, I didn’t realize Kingdom of the Blind is the fourteenth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series until I got to Louise Penny’s heartbreaking Acknowledgements section – her late husband, Michael, who was the inspiration for her series’ protagonist had died before she started writing this. Even though not having read the previous thirteen books didn’t hamper my ability to follow the story in Kingdom of the Blind in any way, I wonder if my rating for it would have been higher had I read them before. On Goodreads readers who have read the series from the beginning speaks highly of this (at the time of this review, Kingdom of the Blind has a rating of 4.49, and 10,000+ readers have read it!), and their love for the novel seems to stem from their familiarity of the long-established characters in Three Pines. Because of this, even though Kingdom of the Blind can be read as a standalone novel, I feel like this is a series that is best read in order.

Note: Many thanks to Minotaur Books for sending me a review copy of Kingdom of the Blind.

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. At first I got mixed up (I’m a little tired) and thought your opener was how YOU got this copy of the book, ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol! That is funny! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have long wanted to read something by Louise Penny, and I think I will start with her first novel in this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She never crossed my radar until I received this book, even though Gamache series has a huge following.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Book Page” printed an interview with her a few years ago which I found very interesting, but like so many authors, she has been lingering on the TBR pile…

        Like

  3. I’ve read the first three Inspector Gamache novels. Really enjoyed them. They can be read in any order but the relationships of the recurring characters do develop over time so reading in sequence is probably better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading the reviews on Goodreads, that’s what I felt too. It’s good to hear that you had fun reading the first few books. It gave me the nudge I needed to request Still Life from the library. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read them all and love them. Yes, reading in order would be best due to relationships and several major events. I was lucky enough to hear Louise Penny speak, some years back, at an event when I was still living in Michigan. Not only is she a talented writer, but she’s a great speaker, as well. Seems like a truly nice person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! That’s so nice! Was the event by any chance at Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor? 🙂

      Like

      1. No, this one was farther north, in Alpena, at some type of community building.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: