Thursday, April 6, 2023


Three police detectives from three crime fiction series. Who did I like the best? Chief Inspector Armand Gamache,  Commissario Guido Brunetti or Detective Inspector John Rebus??

I recently read three crime fiction books from three separate authors and series that I love. I am systematically working my way through each of these series. Ordinarily, I do not read them back-to-back but this time I did and it made me realize that while I love all three, they are definitely very different and that it is not necessarily good to read one after the other. Learn a bit more here as I review the three crime detectives from these books.


Canadian author Louise Penny has written 18 crime novels set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that feature Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Gamache is with the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force for that Canadian province. Penny’s books not only feature the solving of mysteries but they are also quite character-driven exploring as they do relationships between the various characters who live in or near the fictional town of Three Pines. While Gamache does solve mysteries, his character and these books are definitely kinder and gentler crime novels that feature love and friendship, belonging and hope and kindness.

Find Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache here on Amazon.


American and Swiss author Donna Leon has written 32 crime novels set in Venice, Italy, that feature Commissario (Detective Superintendent) Guido Brunetti, a member of the Italian State Police. Brunetti reminds me of Chief Inspector Gamache. He is also neat and tidy and educated. He values his home life, trying to be home for dinner and to be with his family as much as he can be. Definitely not what you might not expect in the pages of a detective novel.

Find Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti here on Amazon.


Scottish author Ian Rankin has written 29 crime novels mostly set in Edinburgh, Scotland that feature Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rebus is a member of the Lothian and Borders Police force in Edinburgh. Rankin’s books are darker and, accordingly, Rebus is not so likeable. He is definitely not neat and tidy and his life usually seems to be in shambles. He fits the stereotype of what you might expect to find in a noir-style, crime fiction novel. That is, he is a disorganized, hard-drinking, over-worked policeman. 

Find Ian Rankin's Detective Inspector John Rebus here on Amazon.  


The first two detectives obviously share somewhat similar styles but the third, Detective Inspector Rebus, has a style that is vastly different and therefore, the whole feeling of Rankins’ books is different. I like all three of the detectives and I stand by my previous recommendations to read each of these series but I don’t recommend reading them together or even back-to-back. Detective Inspector Rebus’ and his whole world are much, much darker and grittier than the other two and it is, therefore, very hard to like him after you have just finished solving mysteries with the very likeable Chief Inspector Gamache and Commissario Brunetti.

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Treasures By Brenda

Louise Penny's Still Life Reviewed

CRIME FICTION DETECTIVES: Chief Inspector Gamache, Commissario Guido Brunetti and Detective Inspector John Rebus. Which is best? 

Three police detectives; three crime series. Who did I like the best? Chief Inspector Gamache,  Commissario Brunetti or Detective Inspector Rebus?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Brenda, as you know I am a huge fan of mysteries and crime novels and particularly like books starring detectives, police and/or the FBI. Your review of these three crime fiction detectives is fascinating to me as I had not heard of any of them. Being from the U.S. I seem to have stayed with American detectives and now you have broadened my horizons by introducing me to two Canadian detectives and one from Scotland. Thanks so much!

  2. While darker, grittier thrillers aren’t to my taste, I have been tempted to read Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, and Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti series also sounds very interesting. Thanks so much for your comparison of these three protagonists and series.

  3. Oh three new authors for me and they seem to be all very prolific. Yeah, that makes my life easier. I have to agree with you that reading these back to back might take away from the "feeling" of the novel. But I would definitely read them all. Thanks for these recommendations!

  4. I can see how it would be difficult to not compare them if you read them back to back. I suspect Rankin's character would be more realistic. It would be difficult to work all day, everyday around crime and not become jaded and cynical. Which would I prefer? Like you, I would probably like them all for different reasons. Which I would want to read when would depend on my own mood at the time.

  5. Very interesting comparison of three different detective series. I have read some of Louise Penny's novels with Inspector Gamache and I do enjoy that series. I have also watched the Three Pines series on TV. I have not yet read the other two but I thank you for putting them on my radar.

  6. I have not read any of these three crime fiction detectives and your comparison of them was very interesting. It is useful to know that you do not recommend reading them all back to back. I can see you would like them for different reasons. Thank you for your review and recommendations.

  7. Great guidance for those looking to choose a good detective series, or at least where to start - I know my mom would have enjoyed all of them


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