The best books set in Quebec

7 authors have picked their favorite books about Quebec and why they recommend each book.

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The Beautiful Mystery

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of The Beautiful Mystery

In this installment of her beloved Three Pines series, Penny locates the crime in a remote abbey in Quebec, where a couple of dozen monks – renowned for their singing – are cloistered. When the choir director is murdered, enter the series hero Inspector Gamache, who unfolds a story of timeless yet sinister beauty about the origins of Gregorian chant. This is the second book on my Best Five list that is set in a monastery, which speaks to how I can’t resist well-written mysteries set in closed communities – there’s just something so frightening and compelling about that small ring of victims and suspects, not to mention palpable atmosphere and themes that matter. I’m really interested in the psychology of a killer who places an obsessive love of an art object above the sanctity of life. 


Who am I?

One of the advantages of growing up in New Jersey is the proximity to the museums in New York City. What great school field trips! And I really believe that’s where my love for art and history began. My cathedrals are art museums, great libraries, Civil War battlefields, wilderness shorelines – experiencing these places lifts me out of the dailiness of life, reminds me of struggle, greatness, and excellence. I guess it was just a matter of time before my sweet spot as a writer and reader is the point of intersection between great art and terrible crimes. Things worth writing about. 


I wrote...

A Killer's Guide to Good Works

By Shelley Costa,

Book cover of A Killer's Guide to Good Works

What is my book about?

When Senior Editor Val Cameron’s best friend, a curator, returns to Manhattan from an abbey in England, she invites Val to see a priceless relic that has mysteriously found its way into her carry-on. But by the time Val arrives at the museum, her friend has been murdered – and the relic is gone. Val soon learns that a young monk at the abbey has also been murdered. Is there a single killer at work? What dark purpose is attached to the relic that has led to two murders? Now she has to unmask a killer who stops at nothing to fulfill an ambitious plan – and Val Cameron is just the latest person to stand in the way.

Carry On

By Various Contributors, Rogé Girard (illustrator),

Book cover of Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants

I love the genesis of this book — a high school writing workshop for newcomers to Quebec, Canada. And I love that within its pages, students from around the world — the Philippines, Uruguay, Pakistan, China, Moldova Iran, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Venezuela — come together to share their personal experiences of seeking peace and security in a new country. Students share the pain and loss of being forced to leave their homes, families, friends, and way of life behind and reflect on their changing identities with strength and vulnerability. Illustrated with expressive portraits by Rogè, the collection powerfully conveys the uncertainty these young immigrants face and the cautious hope they have for the future. 


Who am I?

Growing up on a farm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada that my family had owned for six generations, my world was small. That all changed when I moved to Toronto and met my husband, the Canadian-born son of Polish Jews who survived death camps and the Holocaust. His family taught me what it means to find yourself in the crosshairs of history, to be forced to make impossible choices under dire circumstances. I’m passionate about sharing stories that build understanding and celebrating those forced by fate to be fighters — their strong yet often surprising personalities, their unique journeys, and their inspiring grit. 


I wrote...

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees

By Mary Beth Leatherdale, Eleanor Shakespeare (illustrator),

Book cover of Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees

What is my book about?

From pre-World War II Europe to present-day North Africa, Stormy Seas chronicles the real journeys of five young people who fled their homes, risking their lives on the open sea to seek refuge elsewhere. Each story reveals how these young people were forced to leave behind everything familiar in search of peace and security: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the United States from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; and after losing his family, Mohamed abandons his village on the Ivory Coast in search of a new life. With enormous courage and remarkable resilience, each overcame horrific obstacles and found hope in what life can be.

“Harrowing, wrenching, and hopeful.” - Publishers Weekly, *Starred review 

A Taste of Quebec

By Julian Armstrong,

Book cover of A Taste of Quebec

That’s right, a cookbook. Julian Armstrong was the long-time food editor for The Montreal Gazette, Quebec’s largest English-language newspaper. I lean heavily on this book to re-connect with my French heritage. What I love about A Taste of Quebec is its economy – one page, a short description, a list of ingredients with measurements, and a small insert telling you where the recipe originated and a little about that region. That’s it, on to the next page. Unlike online recipes – which can be convenient – there are no ads or long narratives about the author’s personal and complicated relationship with fennel. 


Who am I?

I chose these books because a theme in my writing is standing up, and being a champion for things that get forgotten – books, music, events, people. Also, for anyone who has done investigative reporting, the sense is always like you’re going down a rabbit hole and penetrating a dark, undiscovered country. Also – and I don’t think many people know this – I was an English Lit major in college at the University of Toronto. In my early days I did a lot of reading, on a disparate field of interests. 


I wrote...

Wish You Were Here

By John Allore, Patricia Pearson,

Book cover of Wish You Were Here

What is my book about?

In fall 1978, teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn't seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn't investigate. Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa's brother, John, after Theresa's death. Though the two teens went their separate ways, the family's grief, obsession with justice, and desire for the truth never left Patricia. 

In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when the cops came to the door. They determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, an accomplished crime journalist and author, and they found answers more alarming than they could have imagined.

The Pineapples of Wrath

By Cathon (illustrator),

Book cover of The Pineapples of Wrath

If, like the charming heroine of this laugh-out-loud comic, you are obsessed with murder mysteries and true-crime tales, you’re sure to be delighted by this winking pastiche of the detective novel. Set in the (very fictional and completely absurd) Hawaiian Quarter of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, The Pineapples of Wrath follows Marie-Plum Porter, bartender at a tiki lounge and intrepid amateur gumshoe, as she investigates the mysterious death of a local limbo champion. Not only is this book full to the brim with kitschy jokes and clever allusions, it also manages to be a totally satisfying mystery that kept me guessing all the way to the last page!


Who am I?

I’m an American-born cartoonist who’s been living and working in Montreal since 2015. My mother is from Quebec, and when I immigrated here I was looking to reconnect with my cultural roots. Reading graphic novels from here was a huge part of how I got to know my adopted community. I might be a bit biased, but I have to say Quebec has one of the world’s most vibrant comic arts scenes; a blend of American comic books mixed with Franco-Belgian bande dessinée. With more and more graphic novels from Quebec getting translated into English you’re sure to find something you’ll dig, whether you’re looking for slice-of-life or science fiction.


I wrote...

TITAN

By François Vigneault,

Book cover of TITAN

What is my book about?

Set 200 years in the future, TITAN is a science fiction graphic novel that follows João and Phoebe, a pair of star-crossed lovers from (literally) different worlds who find themselves caught up in a burgeoning worker revolution on the moon of Titan. Together, they must find a way to pull Homestead Station back from the brink of disaster… Or Titan might be the spark that sets the entire solar system ablaze.

A thought-provoking look at love in a time of war, TITAN has received numerous award nominations. Cory Doctorow called it “a gripping, knotty, epic tale of exploitation and solidarity” and the Toronto Star proclaimed “TITAN is one of the best examples of the stellar work being produced in the Montreal comics scene.”

How the Light Gets in

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of How the Light Gets in

Louise Penny’s entire Inspector Armand Gamache series is a treat. I’ve yet to read an entry that hasn’t touched me. Once you visit the fictional hamlet of Three Pines, you won’t want to leave. But this ninth book in particular highlights the way Penny’s broken characters strive to let the light in. In this book, the ever-insightful Chief Inspector Gamache maintains his integrity, kindness, and conviction while investigating a baffling murder and dealing with personal and professional betrayals that seem to grow ever larger. His unflagging courage is an inspiration.


Who am I?

I’m a mystery, thriller, and suspense author who’s written dozens of books across five series. In addition to writing crime fiction, I’ve always loved reading in the genre. I’ll take a fast-paced thriller any day. I’ve noticed, over time, that my reading tastes have changed. I gravitate toward crime fiction that features flawed but ethical protagonists who believe, as I do, that light drives out darkness, love is a demonstration of courage, and kindness is a weapon. These five books share this theme in common—all against the backdrop of gripping, high-stakes plots with twists and turns aplenty. These are books that will get your heart racing and give you hope for humanity.


I wrote...

Chosen Path

By Melissa F. Miller,

Book cover of Chosen Path

What is my book about?

Forensic pathologist Bodhi King has an international reputation as the expert to consult when there’s an unexplained death cluster. So he’s not surprised when the call comes in about a troubling spate of deaths in a remote town on the U.S.—Canadian border.

He is surprised when he arrives in the tiny community tucked away in the mountains and every door slams shut in his face. The people there don’t want his help, even as the body count rises. It would be the easiest thing in the world to walk away, but that’s not the path Bodhi’s chosen to walk. So he digs into the town’s dark crevices in search of the truth. But what he finds will force him to confront his own beliefs about courage, compassion, and the sanctity of life and of death.

A Fatal Grace

By Louise Penny,

Book cover of A Fatal Grace: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

All of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache novels are marvelous. In this one, however, there is a scene where the great detective regards his wife, Reine-Marie, as they sit together in their living room. And he thinks he has had a great deal of luck in his life, but none more so than being married to this woman for thirty-five years. He adores her, and it shows in every interaction. He is very tough, very intelligent, and takes enormous risks; but he is always kind to the people he loves. But God help the villains. As it should be.


Who am I?

I have been reading mysteries since childhood. You know the sort of thing: Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton books, The Bobbsey Twins. The desire to profoundly understand the battles of good versus evil, the delicious gathering of clues, and the hope of solving the cases never left me. As I grew, I began to read the adult-themed greats, and dominantly the women of crime fiction. I couldn't possibly count the number of mysteries I have read. Then, seven years ago, I was violently moved to write them as well. My “real” job as a journalist was little different. In a way, every story, every interview subject, has been a little mystery to unravel. 


I wrote...

Adam's Witness

By Joanne Paulson,

Book cover of Adam's Witness

What is my book about?

When newspaper reporter Grace Rampling learns that a gay choir has been kicked out of its venue — the Catholic cathedral — she decides to confront church officials. But she gets more than she bargained for when she literally stumbles over the corpse of a high-ranking cleric. Minutes later, Detective Sergeant Adam Davis strides into the church to take on the investigation...and sees Grace with her wild auburn hair rising from between the pews.

She is his primary witness and a potential suspect in the case. Grace is therefore legally off-limits, forcing Adam to fight a fierce attraction even as he races to unwind a potential hate crime and high-profile murder.

Good for Nothing

By Michel Noel,

Book cover of Good for Nothing

In 1959, orphaned, fifteen-year-old Nipishish, a Metis, is kicked out of a residential school and returned to his reserve in northern Quebec. But there is nothing there for him but trouble and hopelessness. He is sent to a nearby town, billeted with a white family to attend high school. That doesn’t work out well either. This is an inspiring story bringing to light native issues and once again, showing how resilience and courage can overcome prejudice and hopelessness.


Who am I?

I am a Canadian middle-grade, YA author, who's always on the lookout for a new story. I have walked into trees while watching an event unfold on a street, sat in coffee shops shamelessly listening to other people's conversations, and talked to strangers to hear their stories. In 2000 I was walking in downtown London and saw a teenage boy sitting on a bench with a hat in front of him collecting money. He became my Dylan. In front of a church in London was a pregnant girl, also collecting money. She became my Amber. I contacted youth services and researched everything I could to find out information on homeless youth. It was quite a journey.


I wrote...

Theories of Relativity

By Barbara Haworth-Attard,

Book cover of Theories of Relativity

What is my book about?

Thrown out of his house by his mother, sixteen-year-old Dylan is living on the streets, trying to find his place in a dark, painful and complicated world of drugs, violence, and sex trafficking. An unflinching look at homeless youth and their struggles.

Theories of Relativity was a 2003 finalist for the Governor-General’s Award, Canada.

The Canadian Connection

By Jean-Pierre Charbonneau,

Book cover of The Canadian Connection

The Canadian Connection is an expose of the mafia in Canada and its implications for international crime operations. It was first published in French in the mid-1970s and immediately went on to become a national bestseller. There was a time in Quebec when you couldn’t turn the page of a newspaper without seeing an ad with an order form urging you to buy this “Shocking! Chilling!” book that revealed “Names! Dates! Locations!” Jean-Pierre Charbonneau is today considered one of the godfathers of Quebec writings on organized crime. The Canadian Connection is largely forgotten in English-speaking Canada and widely unknown to the rest of the world. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the mafia, and connections to the New York Five Families of organized crime. 


Who am I?

I chose these books because a theme in my writing is standing up, and being a champion for things that get forgotten – books, music, events, people. Also, for anyone who has done investigative reporting, the sense is always like you’re going down a rabbit hole and penetrating a dark, undiscovered country. Also – and I don’t think many people know this – I was an English Lit major in college at the University of Toronto. In my early days I did a lot of reading, on a disparate field of interests. 


I wrote...

Wish You Were Here

By John Allore, Patricia Pearson,

Book cover of Wish You Were Here

What is my book about?

In fall 1978, teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn't seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn't investigate. Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa's brother, John, after Theresa's death. Though the two teens went their separate ways, the family's grief, obsession with justice, and desire for the truth never left Patricia. 

In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when the cops came to the door. They determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, an accomplished crime journalist and author, and they found answers more alarming than they could have imagined.

Nuclear Winter Vol. 1

By Cab,

Book cover of Nuclear Winter Vol. 1

What’s worse than a Montreal winter? How about four straight years of Montreal winter! While a nuclear power plant melting down and blanketing the metropolis with irradiated snow might seem like a horrible situation, Cab plays this apocalypse for laughs. Gertrude, a superhumanly-strong, snowmobile-piloting delivery driver, has to face off against irradiated beasts, gargantuan snowflakes, and even the withering scorn of fashionable Mile End hipsters. Maniacally creative and drawn with a light touch.


Who am I?

I’m an American-born cartoonist who’s been living and working in Montreal since 2015. My mother is from Quebec, and when I immigrated here I was looking to reconnect with my cultural roots. Reading graphic novels from here was a huge part of how I got to know my adopted community. I might be a bit biased, but I have to say Quebec has one of the world’s most vibrant comic arts scenes; a blend of American comic books mixed with Franco-Belgian bande dessinée. With more and more graphic novels from Quebec getting translated into English you’re sure to find something you’ll dig, whether you’re looking for slice-of-life or science fiction.


I wrote...

TITAN

By François Vigneault,

Book cover of TITAN

What is my book about?

Set 200 years in the future, TITAN is a science fiction graphic novel that follows João and Phoebe, a pair of star-crossed lovers from (literally) different worlds who find themselves caught up in a burgeoning worker revolution on the moon of Titan. Together, they must find a way to pull Homestead Station back from the brink of disaster… Or Titan might be the spark that sets the entire solar system ablaze.

A thought-provoking look at love in a time of war, TITAN has received numerous award nominations. Cory Doctorow called it “a gripping, knotty, epic tale of exploitation and solidarity” and the Toronto Star proclaimed “TITAN is one of the best examples of the stellar work being produced in the Montreal comics scene.”

The Song of Roland

By Michel Rabagliati,

Book cover of The Song of Roland

No list of Quebecois graphic novels would be complete without an entry from Michel Rabagliati’s excellent Paul series, which is a beloved publishing phenomenon in the province. In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with any of his books, each volume in Rabagliati’s semi-autobiographical series offers a discrete tale of a different moment in his alter-ego Paul’s life, from light childhood adventures through very intense stories of middle age, so you can easily pick up any of them and go from there. This emotionally rich stand-alone volume (the basis of the 2015 film Paul à Québec) explores the life and death of the protagonist’s gruff father-in-law and is a deep exploration of family, history, and legacy that is truly moving.


Who am I?

I’m an American-born cartoonist who’s been living and working in Montreal since 2015. My mother is from Quebec, and when I immigrated here I was looking to reconnect with my cultural roots. Reading graphic novels from here was a huge part of how I got to know my adopted community. I might be a bit biased, but I have to say Quebec has one of the world’s most vibrant comic arts scenes; a blend of American comic books mixed with Franco-Belgian bande dessinée. With more and more graphic novels from Quebec getting translated into English you’re sure to find something you’ll dig, whether you’re looking for slice-of-life or science fiction.


I wrote...

TITAN

By François Vigneault,

Book cover of TITAN

What is my book about?

Set 200 years in the future, TITAN is a science fiction graphic novel that follows João and Phoebe, a pair of star-crossed lovers from (literally) different worlds who find themselves caught up in a burgeoning worker revolution on the moon of Titan. Together, they must find a way to pull Homestead Station back from the brink of disaster… Or Titan might be the spark that sets the entire solar system ablaze.

A thought-provoking look at love in a time of war, TITAN has received numerous award nominations. Cory Doctorow called it “a gripping, knotty, epic tale of exploitation and solidarity” and the Toronto Star proclaimed “TITAN is one of the best examples of the stellar work being produced in the Montreal comics scene.”

Or, view all 17 books about Quebec

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