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It's a Mystery 6/26/2008



One thing that often distinguishes mysteries from suspense novels is that most mysteries are part of a continuing series.  Suspense novels are usually stand-alones.

Many readers of mysteries (myself included) enjoy following these series.  You get to know the main characters, their family, friends, and co-workers and how their lives and careers change over time.  As soon as you finish the newest title, you look forward to the next book, especially if the latest one ends in a cliff-hanger.

My preference is to read the series in order, but many authors and readers will tell you it's not always necessary to do so.  The author will usually fill you in on the main character's background and any pertinent information from previous books.  I have started several series in the middle, especially the ones with a lot of titles.  There are some very long-running mystery series.  For example, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series includes 33 novels and 54 short stories.  The Cat Who ... series by Lilian Jackson Braun has 31 titles.  The 25th novel in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry was published in March.  But the grand prize in series length goes to the 87th Precinct series by grand master, Ed McBain.  The 55th title, Fiddlers, was published shortly after his death in 2005.

Disappointing to mystery readers is when, for whatever reason, a series ends.  Sometimes, unfortunately, the series ends with the death of the author.  Other series are planned with a set number of titles (Sue Grafton's alphabet series, A is for Alibi, ex., has published 20 of 26 titles.)  An author may choose to end the series because they want to go in a different direction, or they've lost their creativity with the series.  Some try writing stand-alone fiction.  Whatever the reason, it's still painful when a series comes to an end.



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