Three Pines: Is the TV Show Based on a True Crime?

Amazon Prime’s ‘Three Pines’ is a mystery drama series that follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who arrives in the Three Pines village in Quebec. As the compassionate detective and his capable team try to solve a series of murders haunting the village, they realize that the villagers are not as simple as they seem. Soon, Armand gets entangled in their sinister secrets and eccentric personalities as he tries to identify the killer. Not just that, he stumbles upon a missing case connected to the murder that changes his entire perception of right and wrong.

Tackling a group of unwelcoming villagers hell-bent on driving out of Three Pines, Armand rushes to solve the crimes before more people die. Featuring compelling performances from talented actors like Alfred Molina, Rossif Sutherland, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, and Tantoo Cardinal, the detective drama show covers several socially relevant issues through its relatable story and characters. Moreover, the authentic portrayal of an idyllic village makes one wonder if Three Pines and its residents exist in real life.

Three Pines: An Adaptation of Louise Penny’s Debut Novel

‘Three Pines’ is an adaptation of Louise Penny’s debut novel ‘Still Life,’ published in January 2005. It is also the first book in a series of mystery novels revolving around Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a detective who solves crimes in the small town of Three Pines. Interestingly, the award-winning ‘Still Life’ was first adapted on screen in the 2013 movie ‘Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery.’ The Amazon Prime show is the novel’s second adaptation and chronicles Armand’s early days in Three Pines.

Image Credit: Laurent Guerin/Amazon Prime

While the novels are a work of fiction, author Louise Penny drew inspiration for the setting from her hometown Knowlton Village, on the Townships trail in Canada. She based the fictional Three Pines on her village, cleverly incorporating places in and around it throughout the entire series. Apart from the conventional tropes followed in detective dramas and murder mysteries, the show delves into the challenges faced by the Indigenous communities, especially the shocking number of missing person cases involving women.

Unfortunately, a report in the ‘Indigenous Studies Resource Guide’ by University at Buffalo states that between 1980 and 2012, Indigenous women constituted 16% of the women murdered in Canada, and these numbers have gone alarmingly higher in recent years. Most of these cases often result from police negligence and faulty investigations, and ‘Three Pines’ accurately points to this heartbreaking reality through its story arc. Alfred Molina, who plays Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in the series, shared how working around such a topic made the cast and crew better aware.

Image Credit: Laurent Guerin/Amazon Prime

In an interview with Screen Rant, the actor said, “For those of us who are not in the Indigenous community, it was a real opportunity to learn and listen and try and get a grip on this unbelievably difficult and painful situation for so many people. We had Indigenous consultants on the set; we had one of our directors, Tracy Deer, herself is an Indigenous person; she’s a Mohawk, I believe. We had actors who are also Indigenous, so we really just kind of, in a sense, tried to open our ears and listen and tried to learn as much as possible.”

Besides this, Molina shared how his character is highly relatable, given his deep compassion and empathy for everyone around him. This sets the protagonist and the show apart from others in the genre, as such traits are rarely seen in fictional detectives. Hence, it makes the audience connect better with Armand and root for him till the end. Not just him, even the residents of Three Pines in the show depict everyday life and are not too disconnected from reality. To reiterate, ‘Three Pines’ is mainly a fictional show, yet it incorporates numerous realistic elements into its world.

Read More: Where is Three Pines Filmed?