Louise 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 Book
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series
- Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache #1), 2005
- A Fatal Grace aka Dead Cold (Chief Inspector Gamache #2), 2006
- The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Gamache #3), 2007
- A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache #4), 2008
- The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Gamache #5), 2009
- Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Gamache #6), 2010
- The Hangman (Chief Inspector Gamache #6.5) 2010 (novella)
- A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Gamache #7), 2011
- The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Gamache #8), 2012
- How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache #9), 2013
- The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Gamache #10), 2014
- The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Gamache #11), 2015
- A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache #12), 2016
- Glass Houses (Chief Inspector Gamache #13), 2017
- Kingdom of the Blind (Chief Inspector Gamache #14), 2018
Louise Penny Biography
The Canadian author Louise Penny – and not Louise Perry as some readers call her was born in 1958 in Toronto, Ontario. Growing up, she cultivated a fondness for reading crime mystery books which were instilled tinher 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 of hematology at Montreal Children’s Hospital, Michael Whitehead.
Around the same time, Louise Penny 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 writing 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 awards 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 awards.
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 Canadian mystery writers get better known in the world.
Currently, there are 13 main Louise Penny books in her series, plus a short novella.
Reading the Louise Penny Gamache books in order is one of the joys of the series’ lovers (which includes me as well). 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. If Gamache needs help, he is not shy to ask for it.
Still Life introduces us to the 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. The more he investigates, the clearer it becomes that this was no accident at all.
The second 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 that is extremely cold, in the typical fashion of a Canadian winter.
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.
In the following 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 husband, 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.
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 was aired in 2013.
Currently, the author Louise Penny lives in the small Quebec village Knowlton, where she works on her next book. Her husband of many years, Michael, died in 2016.
Praise for Louise Penny
Books Reading Order » Crime Mystery Authors » 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)