The Reviews: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series

I recently finished Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds, the seventeenth in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and the most recently published. For the moment, there are no more Gamache novels to read, unless I go back and re-read the series. This has quite simply been one of the best series I’ve read. While Penny’s books are often favored by women readers, I’ve found myself drawn by the strong male characters, especially Armand and Jean Guy. Particularly, I want to grow up to be like Armand! Equally, I find myself deeply appreciating the strong and diverse female characters–Reine Marie, Clara, Myrna, Isabelle Lacoste, and of course, Ruth (and Rosa!). Like so many readers, I want to live in Three Pines, or foster the kind of Three Pines community where I live (perhaps one of Penny’s hopes). I also have been provoked to thought, and not a little self-examination, by Penny’s insight that a murder often begins many years before with a nursed grievance allowed to fester. Finally, there are Gamache’s four sentences that lead to wisdom:

I don’t know.

I need help.

I’m sorry.

I was wrong.

The older I get, the more I find myself saying these things and I find myself looking back at my younger self and wish I’d learned this wisdom sooner.

I thought it would be fun to create a page with all my Gamache reviews. While I try to avoid spoilers in the reviews, those of subsequent books may give away plot details you’d rather discover for yourself if you haven’t read the previous ones. But if you are like me and want to go back and remember, this might prove helpful. I’ve just included publication info, a brief summary, and a link to the full review.

Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache #1), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2005.

Summary: The suspicious death of Jane Neal a day after her painting is accepted into an art show brings Gamache and his team to Three Pines, and to the grim conclusion that someone in this small community is a murderer. Review

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Gamache #2), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur, 2006.

Summary: An unliked but aspiring author comes to Three Pines and is murdered in front of a crowd at a curling match yet no one sees how it happened. Review

The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Gamache #3), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2007.

Summary: Gamache returns to Three Pines to solve a murder during a seance at the old Hadley House while forces within the Surete’ (and on his team) plot his downfall to avenge the Arnot case. Review

A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache #4), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2008.

Summary: The Gamache’s getaway to a peaceful lodge is interrupted, first by an unloving family reunion, and then by the death of one of the family, crushed under a statue. Meanwhile, the naming of a child forces Gamache to face his own family history. Review

The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Gamache #5), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2009.

Summary: The body of an unknown man is found in the bistro of Gabri and Olivier, and Olivier is the chief suspect! Review

Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Gamache #6), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2010.

Summary: Gamache and Beauvoir are on leave after an attempt to rescue an agent goes terribly wrong. As each faces their own traumas they get caught up in murder investigations in Quebec City and Three Pines. Review

A Trick of the Light (Chief Inspector Gamache #7), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur, 2012.

Summary: The vernissage for Clara’s art show is a stunning success with glowing reviews only to be spoiled when the body of her estranged childhood friend is found in her flowerbed. Review

The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2013.

Summary: While solving a case involving the murder of a prior in a remote monastery, Gamache must confront his arch-nemesis Chief Superintendent Sylvain Françoeur. Review

How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache #9), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Press, 2013.

Summary: The murder of the last Ouellet quintuplet, a former client and friend of Myrna’s brings Gamache back to Three Pines which serves as a hidden base of operations as Sylvain Francoeur’s efforts to destroy Gamache comes to a head. Review

The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Gamache #10), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur, 2015.

Summary: Gamache’s peaceful retirement is interrupted when Peter Morrow fails to return as agreed a year after his separation from Clara and they embark on a search taking them to a desolate corner of Quebec. Review

The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Gamache #11), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2016.

Summary: A young boy from Three Pines, prone to fantastic tales, reports seeing a big gun with a strange symbol, and then is found dead, setting off a search for a murderer, and an effort to thwart a global threat. Review, Second Review

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache #12), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2016.

Summary: Gamache returns to the Sûreté as Commander of its Academy, and finds himself at the center of a murder investigation of one of its corrupt professors. Review

Glass Houses (Chief Inspector Gamache #13), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2017.

Summary: A mysterious figure robed in black, the murder of a woman found in those robes, a confession, and a trial, during which Gamache has made choices of conscience that could cost lives and save many. Review

Kingdom of the Blind (Chief Inspector Gamache #14), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2018.

Summary: Gamache, Myrna, and Benedict, a young building maintenance worker who hopes to be a builder are named as liquidators of the estate of a cleaning woman while Amelia Choquet, caught with drugs, is expelled from the Academy to the streets as a powerful and lethal drug is about to hit. Review

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Gamache #15), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2019.

Summary: Gamache, Beauvoir, and Lacoste are together again, searching for a missing girl amid rising floods and a flood of social media attacks against Gamache and the art of Clara Morrow. Review

All the Devils Are Here (Chief Inspector Gamache #16), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2020.

Summary: A family visit of the Gamaches to children in Paris suddenly becomes an investigation into the attempted murder of Stephen Horowitz, Armand’s godfather, and the murder of a close associate, and will put the Gamaches in great peril. Review

The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Gamache #17), Louise Penny. New York: Minotaur Books, 2021.

Summary: A Christmas assignment to provide security for a professor proposing mercy killing leads to a murder investigation in Three Pines. Review

The most recent novel in this series envisions what it is like to emerge from the pandemic. One thing I would say is that this series has been one of the things that got me through the pandemic. My review of the first volume was posted on April 2, 2020, less than a month after the world locked down. The most recent posted June 13, 2022, a bit over two years later. Pandemic has morphed into endemic and the new normal is a scarier world of war in Ukraine, inflation, gun violence, and political discord stretching from Sri Lanka to the United States. Amid all the murders (both in the real world and the books), the Gamache series reminds me of the goodness that remains, a goodness worth fighting and resisting for as well as celebrating in our daily lives. And there is one more goodness, at least…Louise Penny is still writing and book 18, A World of Curiosities, is expected in late 2022. When I get the chance to read it, and any subsequent numbers, it and they will be added to the list!

4 thoughts on “The Reviews: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series

  1. Bob, what a GREAT idea. Thanks for reviewing these. Like you I have been thoroughly taken by Penny and these books in the series. Be worth doing another roadtrip to Chicago just to listen to another!! Howard

    Howard D. Van Cleave Fellowship of Christian Faculty & Staff at OSU Midwest Faculty Ministry – Ohio Valley Area InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/GFM 5655 No. High Street, Suite 6 Worthington, OH. 43085 Voice/text: 614-404-7076 Email: Personal Zoom Acct


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: June 2022 | Bob on Books

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