The Quick Plot Synopsis and Section-by-Section Summary for All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.
Table of Contents
Quick Plot Synopsis
For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile's review of All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny.
Armand Gamache, a senior officer in the Québec police, and his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, are in Paris for the birth of Armand's granddaughter. However, Stephen is intentionally hit by a car while crossing the street and the next day the body of an unknown man is found in Stephen's apartment. Initial investigation reveals that he man is Alexander Plessner, a venture capitalist, who had clearly known Stephen well (he's found with a special business card marked JSPS permitted access to any of Stephen's accounts). They also find out that Stephen had an interest in a large engineering company called GHS, which is having a board meeting at a nearby hotel soon.
Armand and his wife Reine-Marie find it suspicious that the room had smelled like Claude, the Prefect of Police in Paris, when they'd entered to find Plessner's body. Reine-Marie learns that both Claude and Thierry Girard, Claude's former second-in-command, wear the same cologne. Armand and his family are questioned aggressively by the police, and they oddly have a lot of dirt on Stephen's family, despite him being the victim and them only having begun the investigation a few hours ago. Armand deduces that the police must've already been compiling this information on Stephen before the attacks. After going through security footage at Stephen's hotel, Armand finds a tampered video that accidentally left in a clip of Claude, Girard and Eugénie Roquebrune (the GHS president) having tea right before the attacks.
Jean-Guy is Armand's son-in-law and former second-in-command, who now works for GHS. He digs around his colleague, Séverine's, computer to find out what is going on at GHS. Jean-Guy later followed by a company guard, Louiselle. After a confrontation, Louiselle admits that he was tasked with scaring Jean-Guy off, but he's warning Jean-Guy instead about SecurFort's (security company owned by GHS) interest in him. Louiselle says someone wants something that Stephen has and hasn't found it yet.
Jean-Guy and Louiselle confront Séverine, who says that she's been looking into the same things after noticing their boss, Carole Gossette, is involved with some random projects. She thinks it has something to do with a mine in Patagonia that was found to contain a "rare earth mineral" called Neodymium. It's used for powerful magnets, but breaks down in the presence of extreme heat, cold or stress.
Meanwhile Reine-Marie and Armand look into a series a dates they found in Stephen's possessions. Stephen notices one the dates coincides with the death of a Parisian reporter in Patagonia. She worked for AFP, a news outlet owned by one of GHS's board members, Alain Pinot. At the same time, Stephen's secretary pieces together that Stephen had been liquidating his possessions, including selling off all his art and stock holdings.
Daniel, Armand's son, works for a bank and uses Armand's JSPS card to get into Stephen's accounts. However, as he does, he's captured by Claude and Girard. Claude tells Armand that they'll kill Daniel unless Armand locates whatever it is that Stephen had. Armand goes to talk to Pinot and (with the help of the Chief Librarian and the head archivist at the national archives), they figure out that the dates are associated with major plane/train/elevator accidents, likely caused by improper use of neodymium. Armand remembers that Claude had mentioned a nuclear reactor that was being launched soon, too.
Armand then looks for evidence of it, which he believes Stephen hid here (it's what Claude and GHS are looking for). Armand then gets a gun and brings a fake dossier back to Claude, which results in a shoot out. Both Claude and Armand are shot. Pinot turns out to be a bad guy (as well as Séverine). Girard and Pinot walk out, telling Louiselle to shoot Daniel.
Pinot goes to the GHS board meeting, but Daniel interrupts, alive and well. It turns out that Claude had been pretending to be in cahoots with GHS just until he could get enough evidence. Claude and Armand were both shot with fake bullets and both are fine. Louiselle also is on their side and did not shoot Daniel. Stephen had liquidated his assets in order to purchase a board seat and some of GHS's subsidiaries in order to help bring the company down. Claude tells the board about their discoveries about the company's wrong-doing and involvements in these accidents, and Pinot is arrested for murder.
The book ends with Stephen surviving the ordeal and the baby, Idola, being born.
Chapters 1 – 3
In the Musée Rodin in Paris, Armand Gamache, a senior officer in the Sûreté du Québec (Quebec police), and his godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz, sit on a wooden bench and eat pastries. They reminisce about a very familiar story of how Armand had once planned to propose to his now-wife Reine-Marie here, in the place he loves most of all in all of Paris. But Stephen had been appalled by his idea to propose in front of Rodin’s Gates of Hell, so the proposal had been moved elsewhere.
Stephen, now 93, also asks about Armand’s children, Daniel and Annie. They both live in Paris. Annie is a lawyer and her husband Jean-Guy Beauvoir is Armand’s former second-in-command at the Sûreté. They have a son, Honoré, and their new baby is due any day now, which is why Stephen is in Paris. Daniel works at a bank and is married to a woman named Roslyn. Daniel and Armand had a somewhat estranged relationship in the past, which they’ve worked on patching up. Daniel is jealous of the close relationship between Armand and Jean-Guy.
At his office in Paris, Jean-Guy Beauvoir meets up with Séverine, his deputy head. Jean-Guy leads a department for a multinational engineering firm. He left the Sûreté after being disillusioned from a case that resulted in Armand being suspended and investigated temporarily, but unfairly and in a humiliating manner. His boss at the firm is Carole Gossette, a senior VP. After he was hired, she’d explained that they chose him, despite having no engineering background, because she wanted him to ensure things were done in a black-and-white manner, with no cutting corners, and with high safety standards. She wanted him to sniff out corruption. Séverine, however, clearly doubts his competence for the job.
The following Thursday, the family (Armand, Reine-Marie, their kids and spouses, and Stephen) for dinner. Afterwards, as Stephen crosses the street, a delivery van stops in front of him, but then speeds up and hits him before driving off. They frantically call an ambulance.
Chapters 4 – 7
When the police arrive, Armand insists that it was no mere accident, but attempted murder. At the hospital, Stephen is in critical condition, but alive and being kept in a medically-induced coma. Claude Dussault, the Prefect of Police in Paris, comes to see Armand. He assigns his second-in-command, Irena Fontaine, to the case and assures they are treating it as attempted murder. (He also comments that his former second-in-command was Thierry Girard, but he left to join the private industry.)
Armand recalls that when he’d met up with Stephen at the Musée Rodin he had referenced a favorite quote of his (from Shakespeare’s The Tempest), saying that hell was empty and all the devils were here, implying that they were in Paris. He leaves a message for Mrs. McGillicuddy, Stephen’s longtime secretary and assistant, to inquire about Stephen’s work for potential leads.
The next day, Reine-Marie goes back to the hospital to pick up Stephen’s personal effects. She notices that when she’d picked up Stephen’s belongings that had fallen from the street, oddly, he’d had a hotel key on him, despite him owning an apartment in Paris. She and Armand go to the hotel, Hotel George V, to find an enormous suite. There’s also a suitcase that seems to belong to someone else. An inquiry into the bill reveals that he had been there for the past ten days (not two days, which was what he had originally told Armand).
Chapters 8 – 11
Armand and Reine-Marie go to Stephen’s Paris apartment to find it in shambles, with an unknown dead man laying on the floor and the distinct scent of cologne in the air. Armand hears doors slamming open as an intruder flees the apartment. Afterwards, Irena and Claude show up, and Jean-Guy comes as well to investigate. They wonder if the intruder meant to kill Stephen, but killed this man instead.
The dead man is identified as Alexander Francis Plessner. Armand notes that he must’ve known Stephen very well, based on a special business card they find on Alexander’s body. The card is marked with “JSPS” and gives the holder unlimited access to and assistance from Stephen. The cards were reserved for those closest to Stephen.
(Armand explains that his father met Stephen, a German man with no home or family, in Quebec and hired him to do odd jobs. However, Armand’s adoptive grandmother, Zora, an Auschwitz survivor, was not fond of Stephen. She disbelieved his claim that he fought for the resistance and would refer to him as “just some poor schmuck”. But, over time grew into an inside joke, “JSPS”. Later, Armand’s parents died in a car accident when he was nine, and Stephen had raised him.)
As they go through Stephen’s belongings, they find two nickels glued together, which Armand thinks was a good-luck charm for Stephen. They also find an annual report for GHS Engineering, Jean-Guy’s company, and there is an awkward conversation where it is revealed that Armand had asked Stephen to help get Jean-Guy a job. Finally, after the police leave, Armand and Reine-Marie reveal to Jean-Guy that the cologne they’d smelled upon finding the dead man (which they suspect the intruder had been wearing), was the same scent that Claude the Prefect of Police was wearing.
Chapters 12 – 16
Reine-Marie goes to the department store to try to suss out what the name of the scent is. Meanwhile, Armand and Jean-Guy go over Stephen’s schedule at the Hotel Lutetia, across the street from Stephen’s apartment. It had been one of Stephen’s favorite places, and Jaques, the maître d’ who had known Stephen for decades, is saddened to hear of Stephen’s passing.
Stephen’s schedule shows that he had planned to attend a GHS board meeting that Monday, but a phone call with Mrs. McGillicuddy reveals that Stephen was not a board member and held no shares in GHS. Stephen also had a history of being a whistleblower regarding corporate activities. They wonder if he knew something about the company that might’ve gotten him killed.
Jean-Guy also notes that his own connection to Stephen might place him in danger, too. He also remembers how Séverine had been asking about en elevator project in Luxenbourg, one that could be very dangerous if not built safely. Jean-Guy decides to sneak into Séverine’s office to retrieve whatever files he can about it. As he does, the files suddenly start getting deleted. He tries to record what he can. He also notes that Carole was involved in the project, which seems too low level for her. Also, Xavier Loiselle, a company guard, seemed to be suspicious of him and then followed him later.
Their research also shows that Alexander Plessner was an engineer and was very wealthy. Stephen asks Mrs. McGillicuddy for help in looking into Plessner. Claude also tells them that Plessner was shot in a very efficient, commando-like manner, using few bullets, once in the spine and once in the head. Armand knows that Claude had been in an elite french tactical corps (GIGN), but doesn’t say anything.
Chapters 17 – 22
Irena comes to question Armand and his family regarding the recent events. In a coldly hostile exchange, she accuses them all of potentially being murderers and implies that they could’ve been interested in killing Stephen in hopes of being named in his will. Against Armand’s prior instructions, his son Daniel talks too much and says mildly incriminating things.
Most upsetting, however, is when Irena suggests that Stephen may not have been part of the resistance at all. Despite Stephen’s story that his family was shot for sheltering Jews, she shows records that Stephen’s family were killed after the war by the Russians for being Gestapo officers. Irena shows a photo of young Stephen smiling in a photo with Himmler (Nazi leader). Armand insists Stephen must’ve done it to give information to the resistance.
Afterwards, Reine-Marie tells Armand that she has invited Claude and his wife, Monique Dussault, over for dinner to try to ask Claude about the cologne, but Armand begs him not to. He also finds it odd that the police has dug up such a big dossier investigating Stephen, the victim, in so little time. It included archives from 75 years ago that they couldn’t have found in such little time.
Jean-Guy and Armand are discussing whether the Luxembourg project is where an issue is or whether it’s to distract from the real issue when Mrs. McGillicuddy calls with an update. Stephen’s office and home have been broken into, with things strewn everywhere.
As Armand continues investigating, they review security footage of Stephen and Plessner meeting at the hotel, and Steph saying to Plessner, “text me when you have it.” However, they discover that the footage has been tampered with. The hotel says that their security firm is SecurForte.
Chapters 23 – 25
At dinner with the Gamaches and Dussaults, Claude brings over the box of Stephen’s things for Armand to look at, as promised. Armand looks at the annual report of GHS and notes the impressive board members – minor royalty, politicians and diplomats – but also the lack of scientists or people with a finance or accounting background. As they chat, Reine-Marie sneaks in a question about Claude’s cologne, which turns out to be called “4711” and is said to be the first cologne ever made. However, Monique introduces a new wrinkle as well when she mentions that Irena Fontaine wears the same scent as well.
Meanwhile, Jean-Guy finds an article on Eugénie Roquebrune, the president of GHS, where she talks about their acquisition of SecurForte. Jean-Guy continues inspecting the tampered security footage to reveal that, reflecting off a waiter’s shining serving platter, a few hours before the attacks, Claude, Eugénie and one other man which he can’t make out had been having tea at the Hotel George V. Afterwards, Jean-Guy goes for a walk and notices someone following him. He tries to confront the guy, but he runs off. He does see that it’s Loiselle, the company’s guard. Jean-Guy decides to move his family into the Hotel George V suite temporarily for safety.
Afterwards, they discuss these new revelations. They research SecurFort and see that their emblem is the Helm of Awe. They also discuss the information the police had on Stephen and wonder if they had been trying to blackmail him, in cahoots with GHS (as evidenced by the meeting between Claude and Eugénie). Finally, Annie discusses something she discovered. Her firm had once done some work for Alexander Plessner, and she learned that Daniel had known Plessner (and lied about it before). Daniel’s name was on his company’s incorporation certificate.
Chapters 26 – 29
Armand receives word from an engineer he’d contacted, Isabelle Lacoste, saying that there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the Luxembourg plans. Mrs. McGillicuddy also informs him that Stephen’s will stipulates that estate would be split equally among Annie, Daniel, and Reine-Marie and Armand, with each receiving several hundred million.
Armand asks Daniel about Plessner. He’s upset over (what he considers as) being “interrogated” by his father, but admits that he knew Plessner, but barely. They had only met a few times and hadn’t really started working together yet. There was a venture involved, but Daniel declines to share the details. Armand urges him to tell the police the truth. They also talk and Daniel admits that he pulled away from his father as a boy because he thought Armand was in the special forces and was going to die. Armand clarifies that he was never in it, he merely helped train the officers.
Meanwhile, Jean-Guy confronts Loiselle when he sees him tailing him again. Loiselle admits that he’s been following him because he wanted to warn Jean-Guy. Loiselle was instructed to scare Jean-Guy off, but he warns “they” see him as a threat. His orders come from SecurFort but he doesn’t know from where. He warns that SecurFort is very powerful and involved with everyone (cops, etc.). They are looking for something, which is why Stephen and Alexander were killed, but they haven’t found it yet.
Reine-Marie, a researcher and archivist, goes to the archivist’s office to do some research. It’s inconclusive as to what Stephen’s role was, but she does see that Daniel was the last person to look at the file. Armand checks it out, but he suspects that Daniel’s house is planted there. He suspects that they knew his connection to Stephen, so they implicated Daniel to scare them.
Chapters 30 – 33
Loiselle and Jean-Guy meet with Séverine to ask her about the Luxembourg project. She says she was interested in it because of its connection to the Patagonia project. Patagonia is a water treatment facility built near an old abandoned mine. GHS re-opened the mine despite it causing pollution, because they discovered that it contained valuable “rare earth minerals”. Séverine suspects they’re doing something dangerous with it. She knows Carole Gossette is involved with both the Luxembourg and Patagonia projects, and she was trying to suss out why.
The three of them then head to the office to break into Carole Gossette’s office. They are stopped by Thierry Girard, the head of security. Jean-Guy recognizes him as the third man who had been at tea with Carole and Claude at Hotel George V in the security footage.
Meanwhile, Daniel moves his family into Hotel George V for safety. He then goes to see Irena, where he admits his relationship with Plessner. He explains that they’d been working on a venture involving a new screwdriver design, but it wasn’t a big deal. Not the type of thing that fortunes were made over.
Mrs. McGillicuddy calls Armand about the paintings in Stephen’s home and office, to say that they suspect they are forgeries. Then, Armand and Reine-Marie go to the Louve to meet with Bernard de la Coutu, a curator in the Louvre’s Department of Paintings. They confirm that all the paintings in Stephen’s apartment are also forgeries. Armand suspects that it was not a thief, but rather that Stephen has been selling his paintings off (and then replacing them with forgeries). He’d been using it to give to Plessner with instructions to make investments in a variety of small companies. It’s also revealed that Stephen had wired a huge amount of money into a bank account (at the bank Daniel works at) in Paris six weeks ago, though they don’t know what for.
Concerned about Daniel’s continued implication in this case, Armand and Reine-Marie go to find him. They update him on what they’ve found, and Daniel finally tells them about the screwdriver project he’d been working on with Plessner. Jean-Guy and Séverine meet with them too. Together, they hypothesize that Sephen may have alerted GHS to a problem, and that the dossier had been compiled to try to blackmail him. They also think that he had accumulated money with a plan to secretly buy shares of GHS from a board member to get onto the board. They learn that the board meeting is being held across the street at the Lutetia
They go into an area of the hotel with no cameras so they can talk securely. The figure out that Claude’s second-in-command who wears the same cologne is not Irena, but rather was a reference to his former second-in-command, Thierry Girard. They also get a message from Mrs. McGillicuddy letting them know that Stephen actually recently liquidated the entirety of his holdings a few days ago.
Chapters 34 – 37
The group splits up to continue their research. Louiselle sends word that he’s looked into Carole’s files and the “rare earth mineral” from the mines is called Neodymium. It’s a material used to make powerful magnets, but is can break down if exposed to extreme heat or cold and can shatter under stress. (Armand notes that Stephen’s two nickels are likely magnetized together, as opposed to glued together.)
Reine Marie looks into a list of dates they’d found in Stephen’s belongings, marked with AFP, possibly referring to Plessner. She meets with Judith de la Granger, Chief Librarian for France, and Allida Lenoir, head archivist. They look up anything they can from those dates. It occurs to them that “AFP” high refer to a GHS board member, Alain Flaubert Pinot. His company has a controlling interest in Agence France-Presse (a French media outlet). They learn that one of the dates corresponds to the disappearance and subsequent death of an AFP reporter, Anik Guardiola, in Patagonia. She had previously reported on a freight train derailment.
Jean-Guy looks into the box of Stephen’s belongings and is shocked to see a gun in the box, which wasn’t there before.
Daniel heads to the bank with Armand’s JSPS card (which gives access to Stephen’s accounts) to look into Stephen’s financial activities. Daniel confirms that there was, in fact, a buy order for Stephen planned for that upcoming Monday morning. Howeve, just then someone comes up behind him.
Claude asks to meet with Armand, and he agrees to go. Claude admits to being involved with all of this. He tells Armand that they’ve taken Daniel. There’s something Stephen has, which they want, and if Armand can find it and give it to him, then he’ll let Daniel go. Armand insists on seeing Daniel first, so they take him to Hotel George V, where they are holding Daniel. Louiselle has a gun and seems to be on Claude’s side. Daniel takes the opportunity to tell Armand that Stephen’s “buy” order had been for two companies, the first, a tool and die company, and the second was a smelter.
Claude tells Armand that he has until the GHS board meeting to find it, which is at 8:00 AM, so he has around nine hours to figure out what it is and give it to them. (Meanwhile, Annie has gone into labor and is headed to the hospital.)
Chapters 38 – 41
Armand notes that Claude had known about conversations where they couldn’t possibly be overhead, so instead someone in their group is an informant for Claude. He decides it could only be Séverine. Armand goes to Cercle de l’Union Interalliée, a hub for the Parisian elite. He uses his JSPS card to get in and to find Alain Pinot. Armand is able to get Pinot interested in the situation, and they leave to research. On the way out, Armand fetches the two nickels that are stuck together out of a fountain (he figures that Claude must’ve tossed it there to leave it in a place where he could go back and find it later).
Armand and Pinot pick up Allida Lenoir and Judith to help with the research. Together, the three of them try to find a connection between the list of dates and GHS. They manage to link the dates to major accidents (elevator failure, plane failure, etc.). Finally, they piece together that the problem with all those situations must’ve been the presence of Neodymium breaking down under the presence of heat, cold or stress. Armand remembers that Claude mentioned a nuclear plant that was going online soon. GHS must have been trying to cover all this up, hoping that the failures would be attributed to design and not the material itself.
Armand also brings Séverine with him to keep an eye on her, but she manages to sneak off. They realize that she could have reported back to Claude already, so they need to get out of there. However, Armand thinks that whatever proof Stephen had found, he likely hid it in the archives. Armand takes a different folder of documents to pretend to be the proof. But he doesn’t tell Alain Pinot that it’s a fake. Armand then causes a distraction to escape the armed guards that have already descended on the place.
Back at Hotel George V, Armand brings Claude and Thierry Girard the fake dossier (and hides a gun on himself). When Alain shows up, it’s revealed that Alain was the one who betrayed Stephen. Claude admits that Séverine was working for him (and that Carole Gossette is being set up, she doesn’t know anything about it). Then, Armand shoots Claude and tells Daniel to run. They scatter, but then Girard shoots Armand. Before they leave, Girard and Alain instruct Loiselle to shoot Daniel (but unknown to them, Loiselle has had a change of heart and he only pretends to shoot him).
Chapters 42 – 45
At the Lutetia, the GHS board meets, but then suddenly Daniel struts in. He explains that he is now their new board member because Alain sold it. (A flashback explains that Claude is actually on their side. Armand figured it out when Claude didn’t react to the “dossier” containing no relevant evidence. Girard’s gun had fake bullets with real blood so it would seem like Armand had been killed. Claude explains that they had to keep the scheme going until they had enough evidence. ) Claude confronts the board with the evidence of schematics and such with the neodymium and information about the accidents. He then places Alain under arrest.
At the hospital, Annie has her baby, named Idola. Stephen lives, though he has no money now. Claude learns that his mortgage has anonymously been paid off.