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Last Updated onLouise Penny is a Canadian bestselling author who is most known for her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series of books, featuring the CI in Three Pines, a small village south of Montréal.
If you enjoy reading crime mystery novels set in small towns or villages with lots of secrets buried and lots of skeletons laying around, you will love reading these books.
Here are the Louise Penny books in order for her world-famous Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books.
New Louise Penny Books
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series
- Still Life (#1), 2005
- A Fatal Grace aka Dead Cold (#2), 2006
- The Cruelest Month (#3), 2007
- A Rule Against Murder (#4), 2008
- The Brutal Telling (#5), 2009
- Bury Your Dead (#6), 2010
- The Hangman (#6.5) 2010 (novella)
- A Trick of the Light (#7), 2011
- The Beautiful Mystery (#8), 2012
- How the Light Gets In (#9), 2013
- The Long Way Home (#10), 2014
- The Nature of the Beast (#11), 2015
- A Great Reckoning (#12), 2016
- Glass Houses (#13), 2017
- Kingdom of the Blind (#14), 2018
- A Better Man (#15), 2019
Other Louise Penny Books
- The Best American Mystery Stories, 2018 (anthology edited by Louise Penny)
Armand Gamache Series Overview
Still Life introduces us to the Chief Inspector, who is requested to travel to the small town of Three Pines in order to investigate the apparent accident of a sweet old lady, Jane Neal. She was found lying dead in the nearby maple woods. When he appears in Three Pines, he is immediately not so sure this was suicide. The more he investigates, the clearer it becomes that this was no accident at all. From his long homicide department law enforcement career from Sûreté du Quebec, he has learned to see beyond the surface and really notices when something is not as it seems.
A Fatal Grace
The second popular book in the series, A Fatal Grace, takes us back to Three Pines once again, to investigate the murder of CC de Poitiers, a hated person by the whole village. The book can be viewed as a Christmas mystery, one where is extremely cold, in the typical fashion of winter. The method of murder is strange as well, in the way of electrocution in the middle of the lake, which is very unusual in itself. Despite noone liking that person, this is too brutal for someone hating her. We once again get the usual characters and friends in the village that we are familiar from Still Life, and we get to slowly unfold the horrible secrets the village is hiding from the outsiders.
The Cruelest Month
In the third bestseller installment, The Cruelest Month, we meet again the same characters, and this time it’s Easter time. Some villagers and friends decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House because they believe they can get rid of the evil their small village is plagued by. Except things don’t go as expected when one member of that small team dies of fright. Our Armand with his vast experience in all things crime is once again called to investigate, as it’s not clear whether the person died of natural causes or it was good, old-fashioned murder.
A Rule Against Murder
In A Rule Against Murder, we’re in the middle of a hot summer now in the small village of Three Pines. Armand and his wife, Reine-Marie Gamach, are at Manoir Bellechasse, a luxurious manor as their annual retreat, celebrating their wedding anniversary. Except that this time around they will not be alone, as there is another family reunion that takes up much of the rest of the space in the hotel. And, murder leaves noone time to just rest, either. When the body of Julia Martin is found under a particular favorite sculpture, our best criminal investigator at the scene does what he knows to do best: investigate. Gamache calls his colleagues from Homicide squad once he realizes that, indeed, this is a crime scene now, and soon the wedding anniversary turns into a murder investigation.
The Brutal Telling
In The Brutal Telling, we are once again back in Three Pines where summer is just about to end. When a stranger is found dead in the village bistro and antiques store, our friends get together once again to investigate. And soon secrets are becoming no longer secrets and people with things to hide are revealed to not be what everyone thought they were. Including Olivier, the owner of the said bistro. We meet again Peter and Clara, Gabriel and Olivier, Ruth Zardo, and the rest of the gang we all know and love.
Bury Your Dead
In Bury Your Dead it’s winter now. Armand Gamach is now recovering from a grueling investigation gone wrong, so he is taking a break from work. However, he is called back to investigate when the Literary and Historical Society basement is the crime scene he is called to, where a dead body was found. While investigating this particular case, he can’t but constantly think of Three Pines and his last case there where Oliver was a suspect in the case in The Brutal Telling. So he sends one of his team-mates, Jean Guy Beauvoir, back to the village to see if he missed any clues or if he can spot what he didn’t see back in summer.
A Trick of the Light
In the next book, A Trick of the Light, we’re back in Three Pines, the murder capital of Canada, as many people call it. When Clara Morrow finally gets her solo exhibition, she is over the moon with joy. A closet painter, she has been working her butt off for years, and now all her hard work is about to be rewarded. Except, after the big event, there is a body in her garden. Gamache, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Agent Isabelle Lacoste from Quebec are back to the village to investigate once again that peculiar death. And all our villagers that we know and love are back too in this seventh installment of the series.
The Beautiful Mystery
In The Beautiful Mystery, we are at the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, in Quebec, where the renowned choir director is found dead, probably murdered. The monastery is a quiet place where nobody is ever admitted except the monks living there. But now Armand Gamache and his partner Jean-Guy Beauvoir are there, as they are required at the premises to see what really happened. The victim had a severe blow to the head which killed him. But who is the killer? This book doesn’t take us to our favorite village, as it is all set at the monastery.
How The Light Gets In
In How The Light Gets In, our inspector is at home, but everything around him is rather hostile towards him. So when he gets a note from his favorite village, he welcomes the chance to go there for some peace and quiet, even if that involves murder once again. It’s Christmas time, and Myrna Landers’s friend, Ruth Zardo, has never arrived at Three Pines. We’re back with our favorite villager characters and their secrets and schemings against each other. The more our main character investigates, the more things are revealed about the missing woman that nobody ever knew. This is another emotional roller-coaster of a story.
The Long Way Home
In The Long Way Home, Armand Gamache goes to Three Pines to retire from his work in Quebec, and he is trying to lick his wounds and recover from them by sitting on his porch, relaxing with a good book in his hand. Clara tells him that her husband, Peter, has not returned home and asks him to see if he can help finding him. This search takes him back to Quebec, a place he never really wanted to return to. And this search reveals a lot about Peter, a lot of dark secrets that he didn’t want anyone to find out about. Ruth also makes her usual appearance.
The Nature of the Beast
In The Nature of the Beast, Laurent Lepage is a young nine-year-old whom everyone in the village knows as a scaremonger. He cries wolf all the time, so nobody ever takes him seriously. Except when he disappears. Could it be that at least one of his stories was true? Our major policeman is now retired. But he is called to find out what happened to the boy, who was found dead on the side of the road after being hit by a car. Who wanted to silence the child and why? While this story is fictional, there are some things that are based on actual events or facts.
A Great Reckoning
In A Great Reckoning, we are back at the bistro where a major case was once solved, and this time a map is found in the walls. Here we are introduced to a few new characters like Amelia Choquet, and now Armand himself is now head of the police academy, called the Commander of the Surete Training School. As usual, besides solving murder cases, he is also there to root out corruption at all levels, and this gets in troubles with those who are against him all the way, such as Serge Leduc, who is found dead with the murder weapon being a revolver. And Armand himself is now investigated, along with Amelia.
In Glass Houses, we are in Autumn again, in November, back in Three Pines. Everyone in the village, including Gamache, who is now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, is confused. There is an ominous presence in the village, an unmoving figure staring ahead. Right until the figure disappears and a dead body is discovered. Several months later, as the trial is underway for the killer of that person back in November, there is much more at stake than just the fate of the accused. Because Gamache realizes that he might just be a culprit in all of this himself.
Kingdom of the Blind
In the following beautiful mystery book, Kingdom of the Blind, Inspector Gamache is enjoying his relative peace of being retired. His neighbor, Clara Morrow, wants him to help find her missing hubby, who didn’t appear for the first anniversary of their separation. Clara knows that something is wrong with him. Gamache doesn’t want to help, initially, but eventually, he does leave his sanctuary to try to solve this case on his own. And what he finds could change his life forever.
A Better Man
A Better Man, published in 2019, Gamache is back in Quebec in spring time as head of the homicide department, a position he shared with his second-in-command, partner and friend, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. There is some major flood going on, and the natural catastrophe brings with it all sorts of problems involving the very real climate change. When Vivienne Godin disappears, the CI is asked to find her. There are too many things going on, and searching for the girl should be a lesser priority, but Gamache himself has a daughter and he can’t imagine what he would do if his own daughter disappeared just like that. So he continues the search, even when social media can be as cruel as only people hiding behind anonymous screens can be in trying to destroy his reputation and honor.
Louise Penny Biography
The Canadian New York Times bestselling and popular author Louise Penny was born in 1958 in Toronto, Ontario. Growing up, she cultivated a fondness for reading crime mystery books which were instilled in her by her mother who loved reading such books.
Attending the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, Louise graduated in 1979 with a BA in Radio and Television, following which, at the age of 21, she began working as a radio host and journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a job that she held for over 20 years.
One of the dark spots in her life, to which she admitted at the age of 35 was that she was an alcoholic. However, as soon as she outed her problem to the world, she stopped drinking for good. Not long after, she met her future husband, a doctor and head f hematology at Montreal Children’s Hospital, Michael Whitehead.
Around the same time, Louise began writing books and quit her long-term job at the CBC. While her first novel – an attempt at writing a historical novel – was a bust, she soon found her niche in the genre of crime mystery books.
Still Life, the author’s debut novel, was a major success and it won several awards, including the Anthony Awards for Best First Novel, the Barry Awards for Best First Novel, and the Dilys Awards for Best Book. It also won several ones in the UK, where she presented the novel in the “Debut Dagger” competition, earning a second-place out of a total of 800 entries in the competition.
Soon, the first book was followed by A Fatal Grace, also in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and as more books followed, most of them being nominated and also receiving some well-deserved honors.
In fact, in 2009, Louise Penny herself helped create a new award, called the Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Novel, which aims at helping aspiring mystery writers in Canada get better known in the world.
Reading the Louise Penny Gamache books in order is one of the joys of the series’ lovers for stories that deal not only with a lot of murder but also some very vibrant and interesting characters. Inspector Gamache is a French-Canadian character who lots of readers can easily identify with. He is real and not an idealistic supersleuth who knows it all. Gamache values teamwork above all. Most of the cases are solved with the help of the entire team that deal with most murders. If Gamache needs help, he is not shy to ask for it. Some people call these novels cozy mysteries, however in my opinion, they are really closers to literary mysteries and light-hearted cozies.
The first book in the series, Still Life, sparked the creation of a TV movie with the same title featuring Nathaniel Parker in the role of Inspector Gamache. The movie aired in 2013.
Currently, the author lives in the small Quebec village Knowlton in Canada, where she works on her next book. Her husband of many years, Michael, died in 2016. In an interview, the writer mentioned that Michael is the model for our main character in the series.
Praise for Louise Penny
An excellent, subtle plot full of understanding of the deeper places in human nature, and many wise observations that will enrich the reader long after the pages are closed (Anne Perry on Still Life)
Still Life is a lovely, clever book and I hope I shall be reading a lot more by Louise Penny! (Ann Granger)
Georges Simenon kept Maigret going for over a hundred books. It will be a delight for all of us who love detective fiction if Louise Penny can stay around long enough to do the same for Gamache. (Reginald Hill)
Many mystery buffs have credited Louise Penny with the revival of the type of traditional murder mystery made famous by Agatha Christie (Sarah Weinman)
The cozy mystery has a graceful practitioner in Louise Penny. (The New York Times book review)
Arthur Ellis Award-winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot. (Publishers Weekly)
Ms. Penny has a gift for linking the mundane to the mythic (Tom Nolan)