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Murder Mysteries and One of My Favorite Fictional Places to Visit

We’re spending this long holiday weekend relaxing at home, which is such a treat! For me, relaxing looks like lots of coffee, homemade brunch, and reading for hours at a time in my corner. Lucky for me, one of my favorite authors had a book come out earlier this week, right in time for a long weekend of reading!

Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series is one of my very favorite series of books, and Armand Gamache is one of my all time favorite book characters. In fact, I haven’t loved a series so much since Harry Potter. There are 13 books in the series so far, and I hope there are many more to come. If you haven’t read these books, I highly recommend them.

Each book in this series follows Armand Gamache and his team in solving a murder, but these books aren’t your typical thriller murder mystery. They’re much deeper than that. Penny uses the investigation and emotion surrounding a murder to look at human nature in an interesting way. These books aren’t gorey or overly terrifying, which I appreciate. However, they can be heart wrenching and brutally honest.

I first heard of this series last year, and after reading and loving Still Life and A Fatal Grace, I got my hands on the rest of the books in the series and read them all. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books made up almost ⅓ of the total number of books I read in 2016.


I have no regrets. It was hard to put each novel down, so I didn’t! It was a relief to have another Gamache novel to dive into this weekend. I love the people and village of Three Pines a lot, and opening this book felt like coming home after a long time away, or visiting with an old friend you haven’t talked to in awhile. What a wonderful feeling.

Most of the books take place in Three Pines, a tiny, fictional village set just across the Vermont border in Canada. Penny does a great job in each book setting the scene of the people and places that make up the city. If I could live in Three Pines, I would. Minus the shocking amount of murders that have taken place in such a small town, it’s absolutely charming. Neighbors are friendly, the food is delicious, you have everything you need from fresh baguettes to a new and used bookshop, and people enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice and a warm fire during the winters.


Three Pines itself is splendid, but the characters are what really make these books great. Armand’s family is kind, and his policing colleagues are interesting and sometimes intense. The villagers of Three Pines are quirky, fascinating, and lovable despite being very real. Penny doesn’t sugar coat. She makes everyone likeable, but also relatable. It’s hard for me to get into characters who can do no wrong or have seemingly no flaws. It’s just not believable. Also, her bad guys are complex and sometimes really evil. I love to hate a really well written villain.

I recommend reading this series in order. You don’t have to, but the character development is strong, and is best experienced in order. I’ve heard from others that the first few books felt slow. Maybe it’s that I read the first twelve in rapid succession, but I don’t remember feeling this way. There are some novels that are certainly more intense than others. The middle of the series builds up to a deeper underlying plot that comes to be very relevant in How the Light Gets In, my very favorite of the series, and one of my favorite books of 2016.

The latest Gamache novel, Glass Houses, is also one of my top favorites in the series. There were lots of moving parts and pieces that came together in the end. It was logical, but still surprised me. The book as a whole was fairly fast paced, but once I reached the halfway point it was especially hard to stop reading. I love a book I don’t want to put down.


Louise Penny has given me the same feeling J.K. Rowling accomplished with Harry Potter. A fictional place to call home, characters I love, and engaging stories I’ll never forget. Of course the two series aren’t at all alike, but I’m thankful to authors who create places I can visit from my own comfy chair.

Questions: Have you read the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series? Do you have a favorite fictional place to visit? What’s your favorite series of books?

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