All the Devils Are Here (Chief Inspector Gamache #16), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2020.
Summary: A family visit of the Gamaches to children in Paris suddenly becomes an investigation into the attempted murder of Stephen Horowitz, Armand’s godfather, and the murder of a close associate, and will put the Gamaches in great peril.
” ‘Hell is empty, Armand,’ said Stephen Horowitz.
‘You’ve mentioned that. And all the devils are here?” asked Armand Gamache.”All the Devils Are Here. p. 1.
This opening conversation seems strange in the garden of the Musee Rodin as Armand and his godfather Stephen Horowitz, an aging but active venture capitalist, who raised Armand from age nine, talk in the safety of each other’s company, sitting in front of Rodin’s statue, The Gates of Hell. Armand had always felt safe with this man. They are in Paris on a joyous occasion, the imminent birth of a child to Annie and Jean-Guy, and a chance to visit Daniel and Roslyn. They agree to meet that night for dinner with the whole family.
After dinner as they walk, tragedy strikes. Stephen Horowitz is run down by a van. To Gamache it is no accident, but intentional, and as Stephen lays clinging to life, Gamache works with Claude Dussault, the Prefect of Police in Paris to uncover who is behind all this. But not before the Armand and Reine-Marie find a second man gunned down in Stephen’s apartment, which has been ransacked in what appears an unsuccessful search, the Gamaches interrupting the gunman.
The whole family soon becomes involved. It becomes apparent that the engineering firm with which Jean-Guy is working, a position secretly arranged by Stephen, has been the target of Stephen’s efforts, that were to culminate with Stephen’s attendance at an upcoming board meeting. Jean-Guy searches for what could have been so important to cover up in the firm, GHS, drawing the attention of a security guard who turns out to be more than that. Daniel digs into financial transactions Stephen had with his bank, imperiling his safety. Reine-Marie works with a famous French archivist to discover both the secrets hidden in some cryptic dates Stephen had written on a piece of paper, and to learn the truth about disturbing allegations about Stephen’s past.
The investigations put the whole family at risk, and they move into a lavish suite Stephen mysteriously rented for his stay rather than using his own apartment, where they could be better protected. But the secret whose threads they are unraveling is apparently so dire that those concealing it have left a trail of bodies in their wake, including a journalist investigating a GHS mine and a mysterious train derailment. And the trail of corruption appears to include even Gamache’s old friend Dussault. What protection do they have if the Paris police are corrupted?
Along the way, we discover more about Gamache’s childhood with Stephen, and about the cause of the estrangement between Gamache and his son Daniel, going back to Daniel’s childhood. And Gamache and Jean-Guy are teamed up once more, for those of us who feared we’d seen the end of their teamwork.
The two things that make this a riveting read are the effort to uncover GHS’s buried secret and the question of whether Gamache and the family team (plus a few others) will be able to outsmart and outmaneuver those willing to stop at nothing to protect that secret. They are not even sure of who the “devils” may be and whether they are in their very midst. All this leads to a heart-stopping climax at Stephen’s apartment.
Once again, resolute love runs through this book–the love between Armand and Stephen, expressed with great tenderness at Stephen’s bedside, the love Armand has for his family, even, and especially the estranged Daniel, who at the same time realizes that Jean-Guy has become something to Armand that Daniel is not able to share.
Which brings me back to what captures my appreciation for this series. It is not just the consummate storytelling, but above all the character of Gamache and those around him, people of resolve, integrity, and grace who at least this reader wants to emulate.