About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny - In bitter winter Armand Gamache and Myrna Landers are called to a decrepit farmhouse by a notary. They are joined by a young builder, Benedict Pouliot. To their combined surprise they have been named liquidators (executors) of the estate of Bertha Baumgartner. None of them knew Baumgartner.

In discussion with Ruth they learn that she was the cleaning lady they knew as the Baroness. She insisted on the title when being addressed.

At the same time Gamache remains suspended from his position as Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec as investigators probe the chaotic firefight and arrest of a major Quebec drug dealer. Gamache is at risk because he let a shipment of opioids enter Quebec rather than compromise the investigation of a major drug cartel. Politicians and ambitious members of the Surete are ready to crucify him if the drugs reach the streets.

At the Academy he dismisses Amelia Choquette, the young woman of the streets he had allowed entry when he was Commandant, over drugs found in her room. At the same time he has her followed.

Both Choquette and Gamache read Marcus Aurelius and contemplate his thought:

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Choquette’s return to the streets felt contrived.

The task of Gamache as liquidator becomes entangled with his professional duties when the eldest son of the Baroness, Anthony, is murdered within the abandoned farmily farm home.

With Anthony a financial adviser the issue of money draws to the forefront. Old money and new money are equally dangerous.

Secrets abound in Kingdom of the Blind. Anthony has presented a facade to the world. Gamache is pursuing personal agendas within the Surete. Choquette tells the street she wants into trafficking.

Anthony’s siblings and ex-wife, Hugo and Caroline and Adrienne, are stunned by his death and thought they knew all of Anthony’s secrets.

Once again the intrigue of the murder works better for me than the intrigue within the Surete and the hunt for the opiods from the shipment that Gamache allowed to enter Quebec. Penny writes beautifully about the emotions of people but not about thriller themes. I did not enjoy the plot line in The Nature of the Beast of an apocalyptic huge gun or Gamache as an action hero in the previous book, Glass Houses

In Kingdom of the Blind there is a desperate pursuit of drugs as set on the blurb inside the front cover:

Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner-city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.

I do not see Gamache as a racer.

The issues over the “Guilt of an old inheritance” concerning Baumgartner’s will work well. My next post will discuss the unusal will.

Unfortunately, the plot line involving financial advisors was not convincing. There were too many flaws for me.

The power of Penny’s books comes from the interactions of the characters. I think of Penny as the Canadian equivalent of P.D. James. As far as I know James never drifted into thriller themes. My reading of this book in the series is almost a year late for various personal reasons. I hope the newest Gamache mystery, A Better Man, just published leaves the thriller to other authors.

The very best part of the book came after the ending and the acknowledgements. Two of the businesses, the bakery and the bookshop, in Three Pines were inspired by actual businesses in the small community of Knowlton where Penny resides and the neighbouring town of Sutton. Owners of those businesses write about them and provide photos. Each is as charming and inviting as the fictional stores in Three Pines.

Though  Kingdom of the Blind is not one of my favourites in the series the pages flowed easily. Penny is a gifted writer. I look forward to the next Gamache book.
Penny, Louise – (2005) - Still Life; (2006) - Dead Cold (Tied for 3rd Best fiction of 2006); (2007) - The Cruelest Month; (2009) - The Murder Stone (Tied for 4th Best fiction of 2009); (2010) - The Brutal Telling; (2011) - Bury Your Dead (Best Fiction of 2011); (2011) - A Trick of the Light; (2012) - The Beautiful Mystery (Part I) and The Beautiful Mystery (Part II); (2013) - "P" is for Louise Penny - Movie Producer and Review of the Movie of Still Life; (2013) - How the Light Gets In; (2014) - The Long Way Home; (2014) - The Armand Gamache Series after 10 Mysteries - Part I and Part II; (2015) - The Nature of the Beast (Part I) and The Nature of the Beast (Part II); (2016) - A Great Reckoning The Academy and Comparisons and The Map; (2017) - Glass Houses - Happiness and Unhappiness and Getting the Law Wrong; Hardcover


  1. Definitely an author I need to try at least once. Pretty sure I have something from her on the TBR pile. Thanks for the reminder, Bill.

    1. Col: Thanks for the comment. Penny is a good writer. She has earned her reputation.

  2. Thanks, Bill, for your thoughts on this. I couldn't possibly agree more that Penny's strength is in character development, not thriller plots. I've never seen Gamache as an action hero, either... I think the more personal mysteries are more engaging, and she does that very well. She also evokes Three Pines brilliantly. I hope that she'll continue that focus.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Her new book, A Better Man, is on the NY Times bestseller list this week. I equally hope the book turns away from thriller subplots.

  3. I am a long way from getting to this book. I have read thorough book 4, titled A Rule Against Murder here, and plan on reading book 5 soon. Then I will look for more in the series.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. You have lots of good reading and, for me, a few books that were not as good.