Louise Penny didn’t start her writing career wanting to write mystery novels, but she certainly made her name with the long, great series revolving around Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The series started in 2005 and made Penny a New York Times bestseller, and new books in the series are still coming out.
If you are looking for a new crime/mystery series to dive into, or were intrigued by the new Amazon Prime series, Three Pines, and want to check out the source material, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a complete list of Louise Penny’s books in order, focusing on the best-selling Inspector Gamache series. Enjoy!
How many Chief Inspector Gamache books are there?
There are 18 Chief Inspector Gamache books published so far, all written by the Toronto-native Louise Penny. The series started in 2005, while the last book was published just recently in late 2022. There’s also a short story/novella called The Hangman, which isn’t considered an integral part of the novel series.
Chief Inspector Gamache books in order (at a glace)
As mentioned, there are 18 books (so far) in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, published from 2005 to 2022, essentially going one book a year. They are, as follows:
- Still Life (2005)
- Dead Cold (2006)
- The Cruellest Month (2007)
- The Murder Stone (2008)
- The Brutal Telling (2009)
- Bury Your Dead (2010)
- A Trick of the Light (2011)
- The Beautiful Mystery (2012)
- How the Light Gets In (2013)
- The Long Way Home (2014)
- The Nature of the Beast (2015)
- A Great Reckoning (2016)
- Glass Houses (2017)
- Kingdom of the Blind (2018)
- A Better Man (2019)
- All the Devils Are Here (2020)
- The Madness of Crowds (2021)
- A World of Curiosities (2022)
Another novella/short story about Chief Inspector Gamache came out in 2010, called The Hangman, published between books 6 and 7.
Are Chief Inspector Gamache books connected?
All books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series are connected in several ways. Although virtually every book solves a new mystery, they are all connected through the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, and most of them happen in the same fictional village called Three Pines. There’s also a new show on Amazon Prime called Three Pines, led by Alfred Molina.
Do you need to read Chief Inspector Gamache books in a specific order?
Although every book investigates a new murder mystery, the series is quite character-driven and deeply explores relationships between the lead characters and the people around him, but also the relationships between the people themselves. Those relationships develop over time, so I strongly suggest reading the series in publication order to have the best reading experience.
What is the best way to read Chief Inspector Gamache books?
The best way to read Chief Inspector Gamache books is in publication order. You learn more about Armand Gamache, and the characters around him progressively, and the author tends to use the history of old Canada (Quebec, mainly) very methodically, so it also helps understand the nature and history of her fictional village, Three Pines.
Chief Inspector Gamache books in order (by publication date)
1. Still Life (2005)
The first book of the series introduces us to Chief Inspector Gamache and the small, fictional village of Three Pines. The book is an instant crime mystery classic, and more than deserving of all the awards it got.
It was Thanksgiving Weekend in Three Pines when a dead body was found in the woods. The victim is Jane Neal, a beloved local artist, from a small village that never ever has any crime – so much so that it doesn’t even have its own police force. Clearly, the secrets are coming out, and things in Three Pines are changing rather quickly.
2. Dead Cold (2006)
The second book was originally titled A Fatal Grace, and then Dead Cold. It takes us back to Three Pines, only this time, we’re talking about Christmas time instead of Thanksgiving. Also, the victim is not a beloved artist, but a mostly-hated woman named CC de Poitiers.
She was killed by electrocution on a frozen lake, right in front of the entire village, watching an annual curling tournament. And yet, nobody claims to have seen anything – not her husband, her liver, or her daughter. Gamache digs deep to find answers, but the secrets he reveals might be much more sinister than he anticipated.
3. The Cruelest Month (2007)
Spring came to Three Pines, and with it, a new cruel murder came along with the ‘cruelest month.’ A group of villagers decides to celebrate Easter with a seance, but things turn sour when one of them dies – seemingly of fright. Chief Inspector Gamache investigates as he is forced to deal with his own ghosts from the past.
4. The Murder Stone (2008)
Alternatively titled A Rule Against Murder, the fourth book of the series takes Armand Gamache on a twisted journey over the summer in Three Pines, right in the midst of his wedding anniversary celebration.
At the picturesque Manoir Bellechasse, where Gamache and his wife are celebrating, another family comes for their own celebration, and after a big storm, a dead body is left behind. As usual, things aren’t as they first seem, and loving relationships might actually be filled with old hatred…
5. The Brutal Telling (2009)
The summer is coming to an end, and autumn is coming down on Three Pines. With it comes another dead body at an antique store, but nobody claims to know the deceased man. The secrets and the lies come to light as Gamache investigates.
The main suspect turns out to be Olivier, the owner of the bistro/antique store, but is he really the culprit, or was he somehow set up?
6. Bury Your Dead (2010)
During a Winter Carnival in Quebec City, a historian tries to find the remains of Quebec’s founder, but his quest ends in murder.
Inspector Gamache was there to recover from a previous investigation that ended badly but instead, he’s wrapped in a mystery only he can solve. Meanwhile, an unjust murder conviction in Three Pines comes back to haunt Armand.
7. A Trick of the Light (2011)
Lillian Dyson is found dead in the garden of another Three Pines resident, Clara Morrow, an artist who was just celebrating her solo show at the Musee in Montreal. In the artistic world, nothing is as it seems, and Gamache finds himself in probably the biggest challenge of his career so far. Did they get the right person? Nothing is as it seems…
8. The Beautiful Mystery (2012)
In the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups, a group of monks lives in isolated peace, known mostly for their unfathomably beautiful singing voices. However, when their choir director is murdered, Chief Inspector Gamache comes to investigate. It might be harder than he thought, especially knowing that the monks took a vow of silence…
9. How the Light Gets In (2013)
We are nearing Christmas time in Three Pines again, which means snow is falling all over Quebec. As Gamache investigates a disappearance of a once-famous woman, the danger for his own life rises, and he has to find a way to keep his loved ones safe while getting to the bottom of yet another Three Pines mystery.
10. The Long Way Home (2014)
Armand Gamache is Chief Inspector no more, but rather a happily-retired resident of Three Pines. However, his peace is disturbed when his neighbor, Clara Morrow, shares how her husband never returned home. At first, Armand is reluctant but decides to help Clara find her husband Peter, and his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Bouvier, helps out.
They venture deep into the lands of Quebec, far away from Three Pines, trying to find Peter Morrow, who might as well have sold his soul to regain his long-lost artistic fame.
11. The Nature of the Beast (2015)
Laurent Lepage is a young boy with a very graphic imagination. Every day, he has a new tale about dinosaurs, winged creatures, aliens, and all other kinds of beasts lurking in Three Pines. Nobody believes the boy, until one day, he goes missing, and the villagers start to believe that one of his stories could very well be true.
Gamache joins the search that leads to murder, and a beast that may or may not be as otherworldly as one might think…
12. A Great Reckoning (2016)
This is probably my favorite Louise Penny novel to this date. It involves a mysterious old map that leads Armand Gamache back to the Surete du Quebec academy, where a professor is found dead. The investigation starts to point at Gamache, and Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets at the academy, who was a protege of the murdered professor… That map…
13. Glass Houses (2017)
A mysterious, dark figure ominously appears in Three Pines on a cold, November day. One day, it disappears, but a dead body emerges. Months later, a trial of the accused perpetrator begins, but Gamache has another trial in mind – the trial of his conscience, feeling guilty for the actions he set in motion months before…
14. Kingdom of the Blind (2018)
The mystery starts when Armand Gamache, Myrna Landers, and a young builder are named the executors of the last will of an old lady, whom none of them have ever met. As the investigation of his suspension from six months ago is prolonged, so is the investigation of a dead body that emerged in the bizarre situation revolving around the will.
Meanwhile, Armand realized that a deadly drug is about to hit the streets – enough to kill thousands – so he races for answers as the opioids he allowed to slip through his grasp months ago are threatening once again…
15. A Better Man (2019)
Armand Gamache returned as the head of the Homicide Department, and on his very first day back at the job, a father comes in looking for help to find his daughter, who was lost during the floodwater season.
Thinking about how he’d feel if his own daughter was lost, Gamache continues an investigation that leads to him being destroyed by the media. Meanwhile, chaos arises as another dead body emerges…
16. All the Devils Are Here (2020)
The Gamache family gathers in a bistro in Paris and meets up with Armand’s godfather, Stephen Horowitz – an elderly billionaire. As they walk home, Stephen is struck down and nearly murdered in what seems to be an accident – but Gamache knows better.
A strange key is found in Stephen’s pocket, leading to many dark secrets he held for decades being revealed. Gamache knew the attack wasn’t random, but he couldn’t possibly have known just how deep the web of lies goes, and how dangerous it will become for his entire family.
17. The Madness of Crowds (2021)
Deep winter in Three Pines comes with deep snow, which is followed by skiing, skating, sliding, and all other wonders of wintertime. The peace is interrupted when a controversial professor with disgusting standpoints comes to give a lecture at a nearby university. His thoughts seep into society and divide the masses, which leads to utter mayhem and madness.
It’s on Armand Gamache to deal with the situation, as a dead body is found, and he is accused of censorship while trying to prove that the professor, Abigail Robinson, and her lectures, are what’s causing the madness of the crowds.
18. A World of Curiosities (2022)
The final book in the series (so far) came out just recently, in November 2022. It sees Gamache and Beauvoir having to revisit a decades-old crime. A young man and his sister return to Three Pines decades after their mother was murdered – a case that brought Gamache and Beauvoir together.
Now, the old wounds are about to boil over, topped off with another mystery of an old letter, that leads to a hidden, brick-sealed attic, filled with even more mystery – and a lot more of evil…
Bonus: The Hangman (2010)
The Hangman is another part of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache adventures but in the form of a short story/novella. On a routine morning jog through the woods, a guy finds a person hanging from a tree. He’s not a local in Three Pines but rather a guest from a local Inn. Inspector Gamache investigates if it was a suicide, or something more sinister.
The Hangman was one of the books adapted for the Three Pines series. As the author herself said, it’s a book written at the Grade 3 level, to be accessible for adults, ‘as part of a campaign for literacy, so that adults could read complex stories, but at an entry reading level.’ So, if you’re new to reading, or the series, it might not be a bad place to start.
Where to buy/rent Chief Inspector Gamache books?
Seeing that virtually every book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series was a bestseller, you can probably find them in every bookstore to buy or rent. However, if your local bookstore doesn’t have them, you can easily find them online on sites like Amazon, Kindle, and other sites.
Will there be more Chief Inspector Gamache books?
Seeing that there are already 18 books in the series and that Louise Penny is still very much an active author, there will almost certainly be more Chief Inspector Gamache books in the future.
Especially if you consider the huge fanbase, the fact that the 18th book (the last one so far) got incredible reviews – and that the new Alfred Molina-led Amazon Prime series got a bunch of new fans hooked to the series.