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 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 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
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
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
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
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 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!