A Great Reckoning
Goodreads ratings
4.41 / 5

"A Great Reckoning" Summary

By Louise Penny

mystery | 389 pages | Published in 2016

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 found 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.Number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates a mysterious map and a murder in a small Quebec village.


"A Great Reckoning" by Louise Penny is a captivating mystery novel that takes readers on a thrilling journey through the picturesque village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada. This compelling story follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he navigates a web of secrets, betrayals, and long-buried mysteries. With its richly developed characters and intricate plot, "A Great Reckoning" immerses readers in a world filled with intrigue, suspense, and unexpected revelations.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The story unfolds in the idyllic village of Three Pines, where Armand Gamache has recently taken on the role of commander at the Sûreté Academy. As he settles into his new position, he discovers a mysterious map hidden in the walls of the academy, leading to a decades-old unsolved crime. Determined to uncover the truth, Gamache delves into the history of the academy and the dark secrets that have been concealed for years.


The novel is primarily set in the fictional village of Three Pines, a quaint and picturesque community nestled in the countryside of Quebec, Canada. With its charming cottages, winding streets, and vibrant community, Three Pines provides the perfect backdrop for the unfolding mystery. The Sûreté Academy, where much of the story takes place, adds an additional layer of intrigue to the setting, with its rich history and enigmatic atmosphere.

Main Events

The story is filled with a series of compelling events that drive the narrative forward and keep readers on the edge of their seats. Here are some of the main events that shape the plot of "A Great Reckoning":

1-3Gamache discovers the hidden map at the Sûreté Academy, sparking his investigation into the unsolved crime.
4-6Gamache delves into the history of the academy and uncovers long-buried secrets that have haunted the institution for decades.
7-9Tensions rise as Gamache confronts the past and navigates a web of deception and betrayal within the academy.
10-12The investigation leads Gamache to confront powerful figures with vested interests in keeping the truth hidden.
13-15The shocking revelations of the past converge with the present, leading to a dramatic confrontation and a reckoning long overdue.

Main Characters

Armand Gamache

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the central figure in the novel, known for his keen intellect, unwavering integrity, and deep sense of empathy. As the former head of the Homicide Department, Gamache brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to his new role as commander at the Sûreté Academy. His dedication to seeking justice and uncovering the truth drives the narrative forward, making him a compelling and complex protagonist.

Reine-Marie Gamache

Reine-Marie Gamache is Armand's wife, a warm and perceptive woman who provides unwavering support to her husband. Her quiet strength and deep understanding of human nature make her a beloved presence in the story, offering both comfort and insight to those around her.

Amelia Choquet

Amelia Choquet is a key character in the novel, a young cadet at the academy with a troubled past and a resilient spirit. Her journey intertwines with Gamache's investigation, leading to unexpected connections and revelations that shed light on the mysteries at the heart of the story.

Stephen Horowitz

Stephen Horowitz, a respected professor at the academy, plays a significant role in the unfolding events. His knowledge and expertise become instrumental in unraveling the secrets hidden within the academy's walls, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

Themes and Insights


  • Justice and Accountability: The novel explores the concept of justice, accountability, and the consequences of long-buried secrets. Gamache's unwavering commitment to seeking the truth highlights the importance of holding individuals and institutions accountable for their actions.
  • Betrayal and Deception: The theme of betrayal runs deep in the story, as characters grapple with the consequences of past deceptions and hidden agendas. The novel delves into the complexities of trust and the far-reaching impact of betrayal on personal and professional relationships.
  • Redemption and Forgiveness: Through the characters' journeys, "A Great Reckoning" examines the themes of redemption and forgiveness, offering a nuanced exploration of second chances and the possibility of healing from past traumas.


The novel offers insightful reflections on human nature, morality, and the intricacies of interpersonal relationships. Through its richly developed characters and thought-provoking narrative, "A Great Reckoning" invites readers to contemplate the complexities of truth, justice, and the enduring power of resilience in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "A Great Reckoning" are sure to be captivated by the masterful storytelling, intricate plot twists, and compelling character dynamics. The novel's exploration of justice, betrayal, and the enduring quest for truth provides a thought-provoking and immersive reading experience. With its richly detailed setting and deeply human themes, "A Great Reckoning" is a must-read for fans of mystery and psychological suspense.


In "A Great Reckoning," Louise Penny delivers a gripping and evocative narrative that weaves together the complexities of human nature, the enduring pursuit of justice, and the profound impact of long-buried secrets. With Chief Inspector Armand Gamache at the helm, readers are taken on a mesmerizing journey through the hauntingly beautiful village of Three Pines, where mysteries abound and revelations await. Through its richly developed characters, compelling plot, and thought-provoking themes, "A Great Reckoning" stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the timeless allure of the mystery genre.

A Great Reckoning FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'A Great Reckoning'?

    A Great Reckoning is a mystery novel, specifically falling into the subgenre of crime fiction.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Great Reckoning'?

    The author of 'A Great Reckoning' is Louise Penny.

  3. What is the setting of 'A Great Reckoning'?

    The novel is set in the fictional village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada.

  4. Is 'A Great Reckoning' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Great Reckoning' is part of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, also known as the Three Pines series.

  5. What is the main plot of 'A Great Reckoning'?

    The novel follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he takes on a new role as the head of the Sûreté Academy. He is tasked with uncovering corruption and solving a murder within the academy.

  6. Are there recurring characters in 'A Great Reckoning'?

    Yes, many characters from previous books in the series make appearances in 'A Great Reckoning', including Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and the residents of Three Pines.

  7. Is 'A Great Reckoning' suitable for readers who are new to the series?

    While it is part of a series, 'A Great Reckoning' can be enjoyed by readers who are new to Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache novels. The author provides enough context for new readers to follow the story.

  8. Does 'A Great Reckoning' have a focus on character development?

    Yes, character development is a significant aspect of the novel, particularly for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he navigates his new role and the challenges it presents.

  9. Is 'A Great Reckoning' a standalone novel?

    No, 'A Great Reckoning' is best enjoyed as part of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, as it continues the ongoing character and story arcs from previous books.