Book review: ‘All the Devils Are Here’ by Louise Penny

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Armond and Reine Marie Gamache were in Paris in anticipation of their daughter, Annie, giving birth to a granddaughter. Annie is married to Jean-Guy Beauvior, previously Armond’s second in command of the Quebec Provincial Police. They now live in Paris as Jean-Guy is employed by GHS Engineering Corporation. The Gamache’s son, Michael, and his family live in Paris as well. Michael is a banker. After Armond’s parent’s untimely deaths, Armond had been raised in Paris by his godfather, Steven Horowitz. Although 93, he was in Paris for the birth as well.

Steven Horowitz is a billionaire. He has a reputation as a person who confronts wrongdoing in the corporate world. His fearlessness had made him a great deal of money and a number of enemies. To Armond, though, Steven Horowitz is the man who raised him, his father figure. It was in that role that Steven was walking with the family, crossing the street ahead of them, looking at his phone. Armond and Reine-Marie watched helplessly as the van sped toward Steven, hit him, and sped away. Steven Horowitz lay bleeding on the side of the highway. Armond rushed to him, Reine-Marie called 911. The net result was that Steven Horowitz was in a coma in the hospital. Armond and Reine-Marie were sure that Steven had been targeted.

As Armond struggled to get things in order, strange facts were emerging. Steven had been in Paris several days before the appointed meeting time. Further investigation established that he had been staying in a luxury hotel instead of his apartment. When Armond and Reine-Marie went to the apartment, they found the body of a man they had never seen before. And on Steven’s agenda was a note indicating that he was planning to attend GHS’s annual meeting the next morning. Attendance seemed impossible since he was not a shareholder.

The dead man in Steven’s apartment turned out to be Steven’s co-conspirator in a plan that seemed to indicate a hostile takeover of some company. It couldn’t be GHS; that was simply too big with too many working parts. But it must have something to do with GHS since Steven had planned to be at their annual meeting. In the meantime, Jean-Guy was working on a related puzzle involving GHS. Why had the company bought a mine that had polluted the water and that GHS had been hired to decontaminate? 

Along with Steven Horowitz’s schedule was a number of dates. It turned out that the dates were those of several major accidents. The accidents involved planes, a train and even a missing reporter. What did Stephen know about the accidents, and how and why was GHS involved? At this point, it was clear that there were a number of interested parties in this situation. Someone or someones had killed Alexander Plessner, Steven Horowitz’s partner, and ran down Horowitz. As a result, the Paris Police were also involved. Armond and his colleagues were in pursuit of the truth, and at least part of the GHS management had to know what was going on.

Horowitz remained in a coma, unable to help solve the puzzle. The more the problem was examined, the more people seemed to be involved. Gamache was out of his jurisdiction. He also seemed to be over his head considering the apparent scope of the corporate crime. In-depth research has established that GHS is operating the mine they purchased to extract a rare earth mineral. Why the secrecy? Mining a rare earth mineral is not illegal. What did Steven Horowitz know and what was he intending to do about it? Who feared his disclosure so much they were willing to kill for it? How high up does the cover up go? Is Jean-Guy implicated or Michael and his bank? It truly does appear that Gamache is over his head on this one.

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