If you love mystery and suspense, reading the Louise Penny books in order will not only brighten your day but your season.
Louise Penny, a Canadian author, presents the story of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache with such adventurous suspense that she won’t allow you to put any of her books down.
To help you capture the whole picture of these books, we present the entire list of Louise Penny books in order featuring the beloved Inspector Gamache from the first to the latest. But first, let’s get to know who this seasoned author is.
Who is Louise Penny?
Louise was born in Ontario, Canada and currently resides outside of Montréal, Québec. Before she became a writer, Penny worked as a journalist and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for 18 years. She didn’t become an author until she was in her forties when her husband Michael encouraged her to write full-time.
Her first novel, Still Life, was published in 2005 and Penny’s writing has won her numerous awards since. She has won the Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel of the Year for four consecutive years 2007 – 2010, as well as the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Year in 2010 – 2013.
But her path to becoming an author wasn’t easy or immediate. Initially Penny tried writing a historical novel before switching genres. Then, after she finished Still Life, like so many writers, she experienced multiple rejection letters.
Penny was close to giving up when she entered the British contest, Debut Dagger, targeted for unpublished writers. She placed second out of 800 entries. She quickly landed a British agent and has since published 17 novels.
Is There an Inspector Armand Gamache TV Show?
Not yet, but one is forthcoming.
Louise Penny’s bestselling mystery novel series is being adapted by Amazon Prime. The adaptation is Three Pines and will have eight one-hour episodes. It will star Alfred Molina as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.
The series will be jointly produced by Amazon Prime and Left Bank Pictures. As well, it is the first locally produced scripted drama from the Canadian Originals division at Amazon Studios.
The series was scheduled to begin filming in Montreal, Québec and rural Québec from August to December of 2021, but no premiere date has been released. It will start at the beginning by adapting Penny’s first novel: Still Life.
This book has already been adapted in 2013 into a TV movie entitled, Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery. It stars Nathaniel Parker as Gamache.
Louise Penny Books in Order of Publication
The best way to read Louise Penny books in order is by following the publication order, which is also the chronological. Here are all of the Louise Penny books in order.
1. Still Life (2005)
2. A Fatal Grace (2006)
3. The Cruelest Month (2007)
4. A Rule Against Murder (2008)
5. The Brutal Telling (2009 )
6. Bury Your Dead (2010)
6.5 The Hangman (2010)
7. A Trick of the Light (2011)
8. The Beautiful Mystery (2012)
9. How the Light Gets In (2013)
10. The Long Way Home (2014)
11. The Nature of the Beast (2015)
12. A Great Reckoning (2016)
13. Glass Houses (2017)
14. Kingdom of the Blind (2018)
15. A Better Man (2019)
16. All the Devils Are Here (2020)
17. The Madness of Crowds (2021)
18. A World of Curiosities (Expected: November 29, 2022)
Summary of Each of the Louise Penny Books in Order
The Louise Penny books in order tell the story of Armand Gamache, an inspector in charge of the homicide department in Quebec. Most importantly, the plot centers around murders in this province in which he uses all his wit to solve the crimes.
As it happens in the mystery genre, the disclosure of the murderer occurs in the last pages of the book; therefore, gripping your attention to the very end.
1. Still Life
The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Sûreté du Québec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines — a place so free from crime it doesn’t even have its own police force.
But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets…
2. A Fatal Grace
No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, arrives to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything.
Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder — or brilliant enough to succeed?
With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Québec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves.
But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself.
3. The Cruelest Month
It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life…
When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil — until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was something more sinister at play?
Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec arrives to investigate. It is a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.
4. A Rule Against Murder
It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family — rich, cultured, and respectable — has also arrived for a celebration of their own.
The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.
5. The Brutal Telling
Chaos is coming, old son.
With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team arrive to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets.
No one admits to knowing the dead man, but as secrets come to light, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner: Olivier.
How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?
As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures — from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it — lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth. Then finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.
6. Bury Your Dead
It is Winter Carnival in Québec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society.
It is here an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Québec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?
Although he is on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.
7. A Trick of the Light
“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow’s garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara’s solo show at the famed Musée in Montréal.
Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, arrives in the tiny Québec village to find the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light. Where nothing is as it seems.
Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart. And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they’ve found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.
8. The Beautiful Mystery
No outsiders can enter the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Québec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. Ironically, for a community under a vow of silence, the monks are world-famous for their glorious voices. The effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”
But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. But before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.
9. How the Light Gets In
Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté de Québec. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department; his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months; and hostile forces are lining up against him.
When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers, in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city for a few hours. Myrna’s longtime friend, who was due to spend Christmas in the village, has failed to arrive.
When Chief Inspector Gamache presses for information, Myrna is reluctant to reveal her friend’s name. Mystified, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.
As events come to a head at the Sûreté, Gamache finds himself ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues — if such a refuge exists amid mounting danger. Is peace a possibility in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?
10. The Long Way Home
Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands.
“There is a balm in Gilead,” his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, “to make the wounded whole.”
While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him.
Finally having found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.
Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have.
The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence River. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it “the land God gave to Cain.” And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.
11. The Nature of the Beast
Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him.
But when the boy disappears, the villagers must address the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal.
A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.
12. A Great Reckoning
When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.
Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.
And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.
Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.
The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.
For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.
13. Glass Houses
When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.
From the moment the creature’s shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Quebec, suspects it has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing.
What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears won’t come to fruition.
But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.
Months later, on a steamy July day, as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.
14. Kingdom of the Blind
When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.
None of them had ever met the elderly woman.
The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?
With the discovery of a body, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing.
But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing.
The investigation into what happened six months ago — the events that led to his suspension — has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip through his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.
Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner-city Montréal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.
As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.
15. A Better Man
It’s Gamache’s first day back as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with his previous second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Floodwaters are rising across the province. In the middle of the turmoil, a father approaches Gamache, pleading for help in finding his daughter.
As crisis piles upon crisis, Gamache tries to hold off the encroaching chaos, and realizes the search for Vivienne Godin is futile. But with a daughter of his own, he finds himself developing a profound, and perhaps unwise, empathy for her distraught father.
Increasingly hounded by the question, how would you feel…, he resumes the search.
As the rivers rise, and the social media onslaught against Gamache becomes crueler, there is the discovery of a body. And in the tumult, mistakes are made.
16. All the Devils Are Here
On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.
With the discovery of a strange key in Stephen’s possession, a search begins. It sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.
It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.
A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.
Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.
For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.
17. The Madness of Crowds
You’re a coward.
Time and again, as the New Year approaches, Armand Gamache hears that phrase. It starts innocently enough.
While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.
He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting professor of statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.
While he doesn’t understand why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is, until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.
They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting.
So that truth and fact, reality and delusion, are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart. Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.
Abigail Robinson promises that if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.
When a murder is committed, it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion. And the madness of crowds.
Final thoughts on Louise Penny books in order
So there you have it, the Louise Penny books in order, which presents a long list of good reads with a book released every year. You can expect a new Inspector Gamache in the coming year since the 2021 one is already here.
To end with a quote from the author – “I’m glad you have discovered Three Pines and the Armand Gamache books. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I love writing them.”
Have you read the Louise Penny books in order? Let us know in the comments down below.
Looking for more books in order?
Check out my list of The Dresden Files Books in Order.