Skip to main content

All the Devils Are Here

Review

All the Devils Are Here

The opening chapter of Louise Penny's latest Chief Inspector Gamache novel may well be the finest she has written thus far. This is no small feat as it features Armand Gamache and the man who played the most prominent role in shaping his life: his godfather, Stephen Horowitz.

The two are back in Paris for the anticipated birth of Gamache's newest grandchild from his daughter, Annie, and are spending some time at the location that meant the most to them since his childhood. They are in the garden of the Musée Rodin, which is filled with Rodin's famous statues, and marvel at The Gates of Hell. It has been nearly 50 years since they first took in this sight together after Stephen had gained custody of Gamache following the tragic death of his parents. The Gates of Hell had such an impact on a young Gamache that, years later, he decided to propose to his then-girlfriend, Reine-Marie, there.

Stephen is a lover of Shakespeare's works and often quotes from “The Tempest.” While gazing upon The Gates of Hell, he states: "Hell is empty, and all the devils are here." When Gamache asks his godfather to elaborate as to why he chose to recite that specific phrase, he is brushed off in a deflecting manner, indicating that it is just the musings of an old man. Their interaction, let alone the fact that Penny shares with her readers in the span of just a single chapter everything they need to know about who Gamache really is, is extremely memorable and in hindsight will lay out the plot for the rest of the book.

"After 15 books set in Armand Gamache’s little hamlet just outside of Montreal, Quebec, Louise Penny made the brilliant decision to take him physically out of his comfort zone. The result is a novel that ranks among the very best in this stellar series and shows us more of Gamache than we thought we already knew."

The entire family gets together for a celebratory meal honoring mother-to-be Annie and her husband, and Gamache's former number two in Quebec, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Stephen arrives late and appears to be acting oddly, even for a man in his early 90s. This, along with the ever-present tension between Gamache and his son Daniel, makes for an interesting meal.

As the group heads out from the restaurant, they will witness the single event that sets the tone for the remainder of the novel. A speeding delivery van seems to take aim at them and strikes Stephen before taking off. Everyone is shocked, and even the alert Jean-Guy is unable to capture the details of the hit-and-run vehicle. All they know is that Stephen is lying in the middle of the street bleeding profusely, his legs at an unnatural angle, and his glasses and contents of his jacket strewn throughout the intersection.

As Stephen lays in intensive care at the nearest hospital, Gamache is reunited with an old colleague and now police chief of Paris, Claude Dussault. The questions begin, and all circle around one specific query: Is there anyone who would want Stephen Horowitz dead? Gamache must set aside his feelings for his godfather and recognize that he is a multibillionaire who has spent most of his career as a whistleblower, identifying and taking down individuals and corporations that have broken the rules. This is sure to have made him more than a few enemies over the years.

Gamache, who is initially assisting Dussault and his team with the case, takes it upon himself to look into some odd events that have occurred with Stephen just in the time they have been in Paris. Why was the typically punctual Stephen so late to the family dinner, and without explanation? More importantly, why did he arrive 10 days earlier and take up residence at an upscale hotel in the heart of Paris when he owned a beautiful, fully furnished apartment there? The answers to these questions will shed much light on the investigation and possibly lead them to the driver of the van who tried to take his life.

When they go to Stephen's Paris apartment, they make a shocking discovery: the dead body of a stranger who seemed to have been looking for something specific there. Further contemplation makes Gamache reexamine the statement Stephen made when they were in the garden together: "Hell is empty, and all the devils are here." It is always difficult to realize that the people who you love the most may have secrets and may not be the person you always believed them to be. This is the challenge that Gamache is wrestling with as Stephen clings to life in the hospital, and he continues to expose more and more things about him and his business practices for which he is not prepared. It gets to the point where he cannot believe or trust anyone in Paris.

After 15 books set in Armand Gamache’s little hamlet just outside of Montreal, Quebec, Louise Penny made the brilliant decision to take him physically out of his comfort zone. The result is a novel that ranks among the very best in this stellar series and shows us more of Gamache than we thought we already knew. I firmly believe that ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE will join several of her previous award-winning and nominated novels, and longtime fans will rejoice at the opportunity to see their beloved Gamache apply his trade in the grand city of Paris, which is both beautiful and deadly for him and his family.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on September 11, 2020

All the Devils Are Here
by Louise Penny

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250145236
  • ISBN-13: 9781250145239