Fans of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries can look forward to a 17th in the series Aug. 24 with “The Madness of Crowds.” Since the publication of “Still Life,” the first, in 2005, Penny’s cozy mystery world populated by residents of Three Pines, a snowy but warmhearted village in Quebec, has made friends around the globe, as the books have been translated into 23 languages, plus Quebec French.
Here, then, are the Chief Inspector Gamache books in order. Titles include both those from the United States and alternate titles from other countries.
Louise Penny Books in Order
1. Still Life (2005)
2. Dead Cold / A Fatal Grace (2006)
3. The Cruellest Month (2007)
4. A Rule Against Murder / Muder Stone (2008)
5. The Brutal Telling (2009)
6. Bury Your Dead (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. State of Terror (2021)
About Loise Penny
Louise Penny, a former Canadian Broadcast Corp. journalist, took three years to write her first book, and a couple more to find a publisher. Since then, as a look at Louise Penny books in order will reveal, she’s treated fans to a new one nearly every year.
Of her characters, “I had to love them. I created a village where I would live, populated with characters I would befriend and a main character I would marry,” Louise Penny told The New York Times in 2018.
Chief Inspector Gamache Book Summaries
Book 1: Still Life
The first of Louise Penny’s mysteries introduces Three Pines and its residents as one, Jane Neal, is shockingly the victim of a crime in this cozy village. Gamache is alert to signs of the culprit. Along the way, readers meet Madame Gamache, the owners of the town B&B and bookstore, and its famous mad poet, sharp-tongued and secretly softhearted Ruth Zardo.
Book 2: Dead Cold / A Fatal Grace
A spectator at a Boxing Day curling match is electrocuted with no witnesses. As Gamache hunts the killer, he also faces dangerous enemies at the Surete du Quebec, setting up a dynamic that will play out in future novels.
Book 3: The Cruellest Month
It’s springtime in Three Pines, but the title and its play on T.S. Eliot’s work hint that something brutal is in the works. A haunted house, a murder, and demons of his own haunting Gamache create a play of darkness and light, death and rebirth.
In Gamache’s world, even the loveliest settings have an ominous undertone. In Penny’s third novel, the chief inspector and his much-loved, retired-librarian wife, Reine-Marie, visit lakeside Manoir Bellechasse for an anniversary. The hotel guests have secrets, however, and a mystery ensues.
Book 5: The Brutal Telling
A mystery that hits closer to Three Pines–the village B&B and its antique lover Olivier–again has literary references, including a Charlotte’s Web-like “WOE” woven into a spider web. Gamache follows clues to find out the truth about Olivier, who with his life partner Gabri runs the bistro that is the source of much solace and comfort food for village residents.
Book 6: Bury Your Dead
The scene shifts to Quebec City in this wintertime mystery, which involves a discovery at a historic library. Chief Inspector Gamache’s colleague (and future son-in-law) Jean Guy Beauvoir unravel the threads to solve this case.
Book 7: A Trick of the Light
In Three Pines, artist Clara Morrow’s garden is where a body is found–that of Lillian Dyson–immediately before Clara’s solo show in Montreal. Is the death related to the artists gathered to celebrate?
Book 8: The Beautiful Mystery
Near Quebec, a cloister of monks lives deep in the woods, growing vegetables, making chocolate–and singing beautiful music. When their choir director is found dead, Gamache and Beauvoir visit to find out who wanted to permanently silence the monk.
Book 9: How the Light Gets In
Penny’s next novel again includes a musical reference, in this case to Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” Cohen, a fellow Canadian, reportedly gave Penny rights to quote the song, and to her surprise, didn’t charge her. Christmastime is the setting, but Gamache is feeling pressure both in Quebec and in Three Pines, where bookstore owner Myrna Landers turns out to be more than she seemed.
Book 10: The Long Way Home
Gamache is again taken into the world of Three Pines artists in “The Long Way Home.” Clara Morrow’s husband, Peter, is missing.
Book 11: The Nature of the Beast
A missing boy, his scary stories. Which are to be believed, and which will lead Gamache to his safe return to his parents in Three Pines?
Book 12: A Great Reckoning
“A Great Reckoning” leads the former chief of homicide from Three Pines back to the Sûreté du Québec, where four young cadets and a dead professor spell trouble. Cadet Amelia Choquet is a puzzle. A computer whiz, she’s also a misfit. Was Gamache right in mentoring her, or was his trust misplaced?
Book 13: Glass Houses
Few things could be as unnerving as a person taking a position and just standing there–night and day, through wind, sleet and snow–but that’s what Gamache is faced with in Three Pines. The aftermath of the spooky vision takes Gamache back to the Sûreté to struggle with his conscience.
Book 14: Kingdom of the Blind
Myrna Landers again figures in one of Penny’s more innovative puzzlers. Gamache and Landers both have been named executors of a will in Three Pines, and neither has heard of the deceased. Meanwhile in Montreal, an opioid crisis leads to a crisis for the Sûreté, and a dark, memorable turning point for Gamache that will play out both in real life and in plenty of social-media drama.
Book 15: A Better Man
As Gamache and Beauvoir struggle to pick up the pieces, another homicide takes precedence. A flood, meanwhile, threatens to engulf Three Pines.
Book 16: All the Devils Are Here
Death, it seems, follows Gamache even as he and his family gather in Paris to visit his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz. When Horowitz is stuck down in traffic, it sets in motion a mystery that will unleash Gamache family dynamics. Will it heal them, or tear them apart?
Book 17: The Madness of Crowds
Another cozy winter in Three Pines, with bistro hot chocolate, fireplaces, deep snow for skiing and tobogganing. The Gamache family has regrouped for a holiday together–until a visiting professor turns out to be someone with socially repugnant ideas. Gamache is assigned to provide security. According to Louise Penny’s preview: “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.” A murder follows. “The Madness of Crowds,” Penny’s 17th Gamache novel, is to be published Aug. 24.
Book 18: State of Terror
While it won’t be added to a list of Inspector Gamache books in order, a list of Louise Penny books in order will have another addition in October with “State of Terror.” She is teaming up to write the thriller with her friend Hillary Clinton, and it is to be published by Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press. Its plot involves “a secretary of state and a weakened nation,” according to The New York Times. It will be released Oct. 12.
The book “follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage. A series of terrorist attacks throws the global order into disarray, and the secretary is tasked with assembling a team to unravel the deadly conspiracy, a scheme carefully designed to take advantage of an American government dangerously out of touch and out of power in the places where it counts the most,” Simon & Schuster’s website says.