Chief Inspector Armand Gamache
Cover art for Still Life, the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series.
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback), Audiobook, Ebook|
|No. of books||16|
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the main character in a series of mystery novels written by Canadian author Louise Penny. The series is set around the life of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force for Quebec. Books in the series have been nominated for and received numerous awards.
The first book in the series, Still Life, was released in 2006 and won the New Blood Dagger award, Arthur Ellis Award, the Dilys Award, 2007 Anthony Award, and the Barry Award. All subsequent novels in the series have won major crime-writing awards in three countries. Many have also made the New York Times Best-Seller List, debuting as high as #1.
The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series is written by Louise Penny. Prior to writing full-time, she worked 20 years as a radio journalist and host for CBC Radio in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Penny originally began writing a historical novel, but changed to mystery writing after finding trouble finishing. She entered the first book of the series, Still Life, in the "Debut Dagger" competition in the United Kingdom, placing second out of 800 entries.
The series revolves around the character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The stories take place usually in the village of Three Pines, with Gamache investigating the murders of various people in each novel. The native French speaker Gamache speaks English with a British accent. In the first book Still Life, he is said to have learned English while he was an undergraduate at Christ's College, Cambridge, where according to A Great Reckoning he read for a degree in History.
The books have been described as "character-driven" mysteries that explore the relationships between characters with each book in the series. Three Pines is a fictional location set in the province of Quebec, with Penny setting up the characters using the history of old Canada to show their personalities and backgrounds. In the series, a few of the plots are set outside of Three Pines.
The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series contains little or no sex or violence and has been referred to as a kinder and gentler alternative to modern crime fiction. Penny herself stated that "The Murder Stone, like all the Gamache novels, is about love and friendship. About belonging and hope. And finding kindness buried. In the wilderness. In the marrow".
In How the Light Gets In, Penny writes that: "Armand Gamache had always held unfashionable beliefs. He believed the light would banish the shadows. That kindness was more powerful than cruelty, and that goodness existed, even in the most desperate places. He believed that evil had its limits". In many of the books from Still Life onwards Gamache tells new detectives joining his team "four sayings that can lead to wisdom": "I was wrong. I'm sorry. I don't know. I need help".
More of Gamache's approach is shared in A Better Man, when he shares with one of his colleagues advice he himself was given at the start of his career: "Before speaking ... you might want to ask yourself three questions ... Is it true? Is it kind? Does it need to be said?".
There are a total of 16 books in the series, all published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press. The first book was released in 2005, in the U.S., with the most recent in 2020. There is also a short novella called The Hangman which features Inspector Gamache and is set in Three Pines. This does not form part of the series and was written as a simple story for adults learning to read English.
|1||Still Life||Minotaur Books||2005||ISBN 978-1410448972|
Still Life is the debut novel in the series and introduces the character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The story takes place in the town of Three Pines, and one of the beloved residents, Miss Jane Neal, was shot in the heart with an arrow. Neal is an archery enthusiast and retired school teacher and Gamache must investigate to solve the murder. The novel was the winner of several awards, including the New Blood Dagger award, Arthur Ellis Award, the Dilys Award, 2007 Anthony Award, and the Barry Award.(This book was adapted as a 2013 film starring Nathaniel Parker as Gamache.)
|2||A Fatal Grace|
(Dead Cold), Canadian title
|Minotaur Books||2007||ISBN 978-0312352561|
|Inspector Gamache investigates after CC de Poitiers, a sadistic socialite, is fatally electrocuted at a Christmas curling competition in the small Québécois town of Three Pines. CC, who had a "spiritual guidance" business based on eliminating emotion, was hated by seemingly everyone, including her husband, lover, and daughter. The crime links to a vagrant's recent murder as well as to the pasts of several other villagers.|
|3||The Cruelest Month||Minotaur Books||2008||ISBN 978-1585366040|
|The novel, set in the small Canadian town of Three Pines, takes place around the Easter season. A group of friends visits a haunted house, hoping to rid it of the evil spirits that have haunted it, and the village, for decades. One of them ends up dead, apparently of fright. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team from the Sûreté du Québec investigate the old house and the villagers of Three Pines. The novel also gives us more insight into a past case and its aftermath.|
|4||A Rule Against Murder|
(The Murder Stone), Canadian title
|Minotaur Books||2009||ISBN 978-0312614164|
|Gamache is visiting Manoir Bellechasse to celebrate Canada Day. After solving his previous murders in the Spring, Fall, and Winter, he must now face the hot Summer while on vacation. As soon as Gamache settles into his hotel, a murder takes place when a statue falls on its victim. Despite the bloody body, the statue has no blemish, leaving Gamache to investigate it as a homicide. Nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award as Best Novel for 2009. The book was also the first in the series to make the New York Times Bestseller List.|
|5||The Brutal Telling||Minotaur Books||2009||ISBN 978-1410423047|
|The Brutal Telling takes place in Three Pines with a body being discovered on the floor of the local bistro. No one in the town claims to know the victim who was bludgeoned to death. Gamache discovers the victim lived deep in the woods and suspects one of the locals as the suspect. The book was the winner of the 2009 Agatha Award and the 2010 Anthony Award, as well as reaching the New York Times Best-Seller List.|
|6||Bury Your Dead||Minotaur Books||2010||ISBN 978-1585366040|
|Gamache is in Quebec City to enjoy the winter carnival. He is on leave after being involved in a shootout with a terrorist gang. While there, the body of an amateur archaeologist draws Gamache into investigating his death. He also revisits the murder he solved in The Brutal Telling, the previous novel in the series. The book won the 2010 Agatha Award, the 2011 Anthony Award, the 2011 Macavity Award, the 2011 Arthur Ellis Award, and the 2011 Nero Award. It was also a bestseller on the New York Times, London Times, and USA Today lists to name a few.|
|7||A Trick of the Light||Minotaur Books||2011||ISBN 978-1410441072|
|Gamache finds himself investigating the murder of Lillian Dyson, an artist who is found dead. her childhood friend Clara Morrow is the main suspect, an artist herself who spent most of her life in the shadows of her husband. The book was nominated for a Macavity Award, Anthony Award, and the Agatha Award. It also reached #4 on the New York Times Bestseller List.|
|8||The Beautiful Mystery||Minotaur Books||2012||ISBN 978-0312655464|
|The Beautiful Mystery has Gamache investigating the death of a monk. The monk is a member of the Gilbertine Order which was believed to be an extinct order. Gamache and his partner must travel by airplane and boat into the remote forests of northern Quebec to investigate the mystery. The book won the 2013 Macavity Award for Best Mystery and the 2013 Anthony Award. The book also reached #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List.|
|9||How the Light Gets In||Minotaur Books||2013||ISBN 978-0312655471|
|Gamache comes to Three Pines looking for a safe haven. He is isolated by his corrupt supervisor and winds up luring two of his friends to Three Pines after their safety becomes an issue in an undercover operation. The book was nominated for an Edgar Award and an Agatha Award, as well as debuting at #1 on the New York Times Best-Seller List.|
|10||The Long Way Home||Minotaur Books||2014||ISBN 978-1250022066|
|Gamache has retired from the force amid corruption within the department. He is summoned by Clara Morrow, one of the main characters in the book A Trick of the Light, whose husband has gone missing. The book reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.|
|11||The Nature of the Beast||Minotaur Books||2015||ISBN 978-1250022080|
|Gamache has retired and settled to live in Three Pines. He is drawn out of retirement by the death of Laurent Lepage, a nine-year-old boy known best in the town for crying wolf. His most recent claim was finding a gun with a winged monster on it in the woods. Gamache is allowed to work on the case, even though he is no longer officially a detective. It also reached #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List.|
|12||A Great Reckoning||Minotaur Books||2016||ISBN 978-1250022134|
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.
|13||Glass Houses||Minotaur Books||2017||ISBN 978-1250066190|
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 its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.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.
|14||Kingdom of the Blind||Minotaur Books||2018||ISBN 978-1250308122|
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? When a body is found, 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 though 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 Montreal. 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||Minotaur Books||2019||ISBN 978-1250066213|
|16||All the Devils Are Here||Minotaur Books||2020||ISBN 978-1250145239|
Awards and recognition
In addition to numerous books making it to the New York Times Bestseller List, Penny has won multiple awards for the book series. She has won the Anthony and the Agatha Awards 5 times each and the Canadian Arthur Ellis Award twice. She was also a finalist for the Edgar Award for How The Light Gets In. The books have also earned her numerous Macavity Awards, and been nominated for numerous others.
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- Kirchhoff, H.J. (10 August 2010). "An intricate blend of history and mystery". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Bestsellers October 17, 2010". The New York Times. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Craig, James (7 October 2011). "Book Review: A Trick of the Light". Washington Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Bestseller List". The Daily Herald. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
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- Williams, Wilda (23 September 2013). "Bouchercon 2013: Louise Penny Goes on a Crime Award Spree". Library Journal. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Stasio, Marilyn (30 August 2013). "Winter's Blame - Louise Penny's how the Light Gets In and More". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Isherwood, Charles (28 August 2014). "Trailing an Artist Who Lost His Way". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- SaSvari, Joanne (14 August 2015). "Mystery writer Louise Penny mapping out her future". The Vancouver Sun.
- "The Nature of the Beast - Book Review". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Cowles, Gregory (4 September 2015). "Inside the List - Sunday Book Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "Kingdom of the Blind - Chief Inspector Gamache Series". Retrieved 14 January 2019 – via www.gamacheseries.com.
- "Louise Penny Award List". Stop, You're Killing Me. Retrieved 15 October 2015.