Chief Inspector Armand Gamache

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Armand Gamache
Alfred Molina as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in the series Three Pines.
First appearanceStill Life
Created byLouise Penny
Portrayed byNathaniel Parker
Alfred Molina
In-universe information
OccupationPolice detective
SpouseReine-Marie Gamache (wife)

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.[1]

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.[2] Many have also made the New York Times Best-Seller List, debuting as high as #1.[3][4]


The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series is written by Louise Penny. Prior to writing full time, she worked for twenty years as a radio journalist and host for CBC Radio in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba.[2] 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.[5]

The series revolves around the character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.[6] 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,[7] 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.[6] 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.[1] In the series, a few of the plots are set outside of Three Pines.[1]

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.[8] 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".[9]

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".[10] 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".[11]

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?".[12]


Cover art for Still Life, the first book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series.

There are a total of 18 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 2022. 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.[13] Gamache also appears briefly as a minor character in State of Terror (2021), a political thriller co-written with Hillary Clinton.

No. Title Publisher Year ISBN
1Still LifeMinotaur Books2005978-1410448972
Still Life is the debut novel in the series and introduces the character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.[14] 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.[14] Neal is an art enthusiast and retired school teacher and Gamache must investigate to solve the murder.[14] 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.[2] This book was adapted as the 2013 television movie "Still Life - A Three Pines Mystery" starring Nathaniel Parker as Gamache and Anthony Lemke as Beauvoir.
2A Fatal Grace
(Dead Cold), Canadian title
Minotaur Books2007978-0312352561
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. This novel was adapted into Season 1, Episodes 1&2 of Three Pines TV series.
3The Cruelest MonthMinotaur Books2008978-1585366040
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. This novel was loosely adapted into Season 1, Episodes 3&4 of Three Pines TV series.
4A Rule Against Murder
(The Murder Stone), Canadian title
Minotaur Books2009978-0312614164
Gamache and his wife are commemorating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, a historic inn near Three Pines.[15] After solving his previous murders in the spring, fall, and winter, this book is set in a hot summer around the time of Canada Day (July 1st). Gamache and his wife are surprised by the arrival of family members for a reunion. Soon after they appear, a murder takes place when a statue falls on a family member.[15] Despite the bloody body, the statue and its foundation have no blemishes, leaving Gamache to investigate it as a homicide. Nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award as Best Novel for 2009.[15] The book was also the first in the series to make the New York Times Bestseller List. This novel was adapted into Season 1, Episodes 5&6 of Three Pines TV series.
5The Brutal TellingMinotaur Books2009978-1410423047
The Brutal Telling takes place in Three Pines with a body being discovered on the floor of the local bistro.[16] 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.[16] 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.[4]
6Bury Your DeadMinotaur Books2010978-1585366040
Gamache is in Quebec City to enjoy the winter carnival.[1] He is on leave after being involved in a shootout with a terrorist gang.[17] 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.[17] 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.[18]
7A Trick of the LightMinotaur Books2011978-1410441072
Gamache finds himself investigating the murder of Lillian Dyson, an artist who is found dead.[19] Her childhood friend Clara Morrow is the main suspect, an artist herself who spent most of her life in the shadows of her husband.[8] The book was nominated for a Macavity Award, Anthony Award, and the Agatha Award.[8] It also reached #4 on the New York Times Bestseller List.[20]
8The Beautiful MysteryMinotaur Books2012978-0312655464
The Beautiful Mystery has Gamache investigating the death of a monk.[21] The monk is a member of the Gilbertine Order which was believed to be an extinct order.[21] Gamache and his partner must travel by airplane and boat into the remote forests of northern Quebec to investigate the mystery.[21] The book won the 2013 Macavity Award for Best Mystery and the 2013 Anthony Award.[22] The book also reached #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
9How the Light Gets InMinotaur Books2013978-0312655471
Gamache comes to Three Pines looking for a safe haven.[23] 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.[23] 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.[3][22]
10The Long Way HomeMinotaur Books2014978-1250022066
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.[24] The book reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.[25]
11The Nature of the BeastMinotaur Books2015978-1250022080
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.[26] 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.[26] It also reached #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List.[27]
12A Great ReckoningMinotaur Books2016978-1250022134

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.
13Glass HousesMinotaur Books2017978-1250066190

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.
14Kingdom of the BlindMinotaur Books2018978-1250308122

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.[28]
15A Better ManMinotaur Books2019978-1250066213
16All the Devils Are HereMinotaur Books2020978-1250145239

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. When a strange key is found in Stephen's possession 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.
17The Madness of CrowdsMinotaur Books2021978-1250145260

You're a coward. Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache. 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 is perplexed as to 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 is 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.
18A World of CuriositiesMinotaur Books20221250145295

It is spring and Three Pines is reemerging after the harsh winter. But not everything buried should come alive again. Not everything lying dormant should reemerge. But something has. As the villagers prepare for a special celebration, Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir find themselves increasingly worried. A young man and woman have reappeared in the Sûreté du Québec investigators' lives after many years. The two were young children when their troubled mother was murdered, leaving them damaged, shattered. Now they have arrived in the village of Three Pines. But to what end? Gamache and Beauvoir's memories of that tragic case, the one that first brought them together, come rushing back. Did their mother's murder hurt them beyond repair? Have those terrible wounds, buried for decades, festered and are now about to erupt? As Chief Inspector Gamache works to uncover answers, his alarm grows when a letter written by a long dead stone mason is discovered. In it the man describes his terror when bricking up an attic room somewhere in the village. Every word of the 160-year-old letter is filled with dread. When the room is found, the villagers decide to open it up. As the bricks are removed, Gamache, Beauvoir and the villagers discover a world of curiosities. But the head of homicide soon realizes there is more in that room than meets the eye. There are puzzles within puzzles, and hidden messages warning of mayhem and revenge.

In unsealing that room, an old enemy is released into their world. Into their lives. And into the very heart of Armand Gamache's home.

Awards and recognition[edit]

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.[29]


Still Life was adapted as a film for CBC Television in 2013, with Gamache being played by British actor Nathaniel Parker.[30]

Alfred Molina plays Gamache in the Amazon Prime series Three Pines, which began filming in September 2021[31] and aired in December 2022.


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  2. ^ a b c Kirchhoff, H.J. (9 September 2011). "Everyone loves author Louise Penny's Armand Gamache". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b Fallow, Allan (12 September 2013). "Woman on Fire: Louise Penny Hits #1". AARP Blog. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b Picker, Lenny (30 August 2010). "Good Fortune Leads to Great Crime". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
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  6. ^ a b O'Donnell, Lisa (7 July 2015). "Debut novels, nonfiction highlight Clemmons library reading list". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  7. ^ "A murder by any other name". Beyond Words – Canada's Official Languages Newsletter, May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Anderson, Patrick (4 September 2011). "Louise Penny's 'A Trick of the Light' A cozy mystery". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Louise Penny tells all". Shots crime and thriller ezine. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Cultural Inspirations from A Fatal Grace". Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache Series (Minotaur Books. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Frequently asked questions". Louise Penny website. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Chief Inspector Armand Gamache's Three Questions To Ask Before Speaking". 12 October 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  13. ^ "THE HANGMAN – grade 3 level novella". Louise Penny. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Stasio, Marilyn (23 July 2006). "Unhappy Families". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "The Murder Stone – Mysterious Reviews". Mysterious Reviews. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  16. ^ a b Shapiro, Ellen (12 October 2009). "Picks and Pans: Books". People Magazine. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  17. ^ a b Kirchhoff, H.J. (10 August 2010). "An intricate blend of history and mystery". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Bestsellers October 17, 2010". The New York Times. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  19. ^ Craig, James (7 October 2011). "Book Review: A Trick of the Light". Washington Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Bestseller List". The Daily Herald. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ a b c Corrigan, Maureen (9 September 2012). "Book World: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  22. ^ a b 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.
  23. ^ a b 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.
  24. ^ Isherwood, Charles (28 August 2014). "Trailing an Artist Who Lost His Way". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  25. ^ SaSvari, Joanne (14 August 2015). "Mystery writer Louise Penny mapping out her future". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  26. ^ a b "The Nature of the Beast – Book Review". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  27. ^ Cowles, Gregory (4 September 2015). "Inside the List – Sunday Book Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  28. ^ "Kingdom of the Blind – Chief Inspector Gamache Series". 25 June 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2019 – via
  29. ^ "Louise Penny Award List". Stop, You're Killing Me. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  30. ^ Kelly, Brendan (November 2, 2012). "Louise Penny's detective novels get small-screen treatment from CBC-TV". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. Retrieved November 3, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Amazon Prime Video and Left Bank Pictures Begin Production on the Scripted Canadian Amazon Original Drama Series Three Pines". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved September 2, 2021.

External links[edit]