Wow, this place has gotten dusty. But – is it? *squints* It IS! It’s a book review! Will wonders never cease!! But I’m deep in hock to Netgalley, and I’d better start paying my way.
All the Devils Are Here – Louise Penny
Narrated by Robert Bathurst
I’ve gone back and forth between giving this four or five stars. On the “con” side is the fact that there was a maguffin in this book that I knew was going to be the maguffin from the first time it was mentioned. SPOILER: (I knew that little unassuming painting was going to be important immediately. That’s not me being clever or anything – that’s the point being obvious. Then when Gamache urgently needs to find something I came darn near yelling at the narrator “Look behind the picture!” Which wasn’t quite right for what he needed at that moment – but sure enough, later, there it was.) And at the climax of the story, when all the plotlines should have been converging into one exciting chapter … instead, it felt like beavers came along and built a plotline dam and held up the flow, and most of the excitement sort of trickled away. (That is a terrible metaphor. Désolé.) (That’s something that could be in either the “pro” or the “con” side of this review, depending on how you look at it – I have found myself muttering in my high school French several times over the past few days. Zut.) It was a high tension situation, with tension offscreen and even more tension onscreen (so to speak), and … it was a little boring, as Gamache tried to buy time and ask questions and the bad guys … answered them.
However. Whatever flaws there may have been in the execution of the plot, the characterization is what always wins the day in the Gamache novels. I love this family. Their troubles are my troubles while I’m reading or listening (I was listening). I love their in-jokes – they sound like my family at its best. I don’t want any of them to be hurt – and I really don’t want any of them to die. And there were moments in the finale that brought tears to my eyes. Whether they were happy or sad I won’t say, as that would be spoiler-y – but maybe they were both.
I listened to the first five books of the series through Audible, and a big part of the draw was the narrator, Ralph Cosham. I had heard that he passed away – but honestly I was a little surprised when I looked it up that that was in 2014, and this book was read by Robert Bathurst – because he was brilliant. I didn’t feel any sense of deprivation in not having the same narrator I’d been with for five novels. Which is absolutely nothing against Mr. Cosham – but absolutely praise of Mr. Bathurst.
The reason I have only listened to books 1-5 and now #16 of the series is that I found myself a bit gutted by 5, The Brutal Telling. I’ve bought myself others in the series, but just haven’t come back around to listening because of how that one went. But then I saw that a) Netgalley now has audiobooks, and b) one of the audiobooks available was a Gamache, and decided I’d take a chance on being spoiled for books six through fifteen. Happily, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I now know about how Gamache’s family has progressed and grown, and I know how his career is going to pan out over the intervening years – but not in any detail: only enough to make me want to know the rest. It helped that this book was set in Paris instead of Quebec. The denizens of Three Pines were mostly out of the picture, so (SPOILER!) (apart from marveling that Olivier was out of prison?!) I know nothing about how they’ve fared since book 5.
On the whole, my logic is: this book made me cry (even if only a little – I could have let myself go, if there had not been distractions inherent to listening at work), therefore it gets five stars. I’m not unhappy with that conclusion.
I was unhappy – very unhappy – with Netgalley’s new app, which is THE only way to listen to their advance audiobooks. It was dreadful. It stopped randomly every half hour or so; the breaks between the chapters were either part of that or ludicrously long (over a minute for some). My whiny email to Netgalley Help got a perky mostly form response that there’s an update coming in a while which will supposedly fix things. We shall see. In the meantime, I’m cured of the “FREE AUDIOBOOKS!!!!!!!!!11!!” bug. But thanks, Netgalley – it was good to hang out with Gamache and his family for a few hours.