21 December 2018

I Love a Mystery; or Serial Reading in 2018

Recommended mystery seriesI have a confession to make. I think I have a problem, but I'd feel worse about it if I didn't know that at least some of you have the same problem. I'm addicted to series!

Okay, so that's not so bad, right? Except I'm in the middle of a million of them and caught up with only a handful. Help! I just can't say no to new-to-me series.

What about you? When you discover a new series, do you stick with it until you're caught up? Do you keep a record so you can read each year's new releases right away and never fall behind?

I should take stock and get a grip . . . but I seriously doubt that's going to happen any time soon. What follows are some of my favorite mystery/thriller serial reading of 2018. (The links lead to my most recent review in the series.)

M. C. Beaton's Death of seriesM. C. Beaton's Death of series: Set in a small village in northern Scotland this series stars village cop Hamish Macbeth who loves his life and home so much he works hard to avoid being promoted to the city police force. The books are very short and lots of fun. Besides the murder, each installment features Hamish's neighbors, a little gossip, and sometimes a bit of romance. The series is my ultimate escape. The 34-book series is still going strong, and the most recent book was published this year. I just finished book 21, Death of a Bore.

Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series: This series, set in 1930s England, is so much fun. Our protagonist for these cozy mysteries is Lady Georgiana, who's thirty-something in line for throne. She is an independent woman in spirit but not in financial resources, and her spunk and active social life provides much fodder for social commentary on the titled gentry of a generation or two ago. Thanks to her cousin, the queen, Georgie is set to spying. All would be good if she hadn't discovered a dead body in her bathtub. I've read Her Royal Spyness, the first in the 12-book award-winning series. The latest book came out this year.

Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness seriesAndrea Camilleri's Montalbano series: This long series is set in Sicily and follows the cases of Salvo Montalbano, a police inspector. I've read only the first book, The Shape of Water, but loved the mix of murder, social commentary, and humor, not to mention the excellent food descriptions. Montalbano is quirky and unconventional, and it's a joy to watch him navigate the many sectors of Sicilian society. The series is very adult and is definitely riding close to the cozy side of the genre. These books have been translated, and there are currently 19 published in English, with two more available in Italian.

Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike series: In case you weren't aware, Galbraith is a pen name for J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. This series is set in the very real world of contemporary London. Our protagonist is Cormoran Strike, a private detective and Afghan war veteran. We also meet Robin Ellacott, who comes to the agency as a temporary secretary. The books are gritty and sometimes dark, and the mysteries are well developed and hard to figure out. I've also enjoyed seeing how Cormoran and Robin grow and change. There are 4 books so far, and I'm caught up: Lethal White came out this year.

Jane Harper's Falk seriesJane Harper's Falk series: So far there are two books starring Aaron Falk, who is a federal agent in the Australian finance division. The murder cases Falk is assigned are complicated and involve accounting, banking. or other issues related to his expertise. We also learn something of Falk's personal life and the descriptions of Australia's rural towns and wilderness are vivid. Here's another series I'm caught up with; the second (and most recent) book is Force of Nature (2018).

Arnaldur Indridason's Reykajavic thrillers: This series is (duh) set in Iceland and features Detective Inspector Erlender Sveinsson. It's a police procedural that moves beyond just the case at hand to deal with family issues, broader social issues, police department politics and Erlender's personal life. The first book in the series is Jar City, and I think there are 12 books available in English at this point.

Keith McCafferty's Stranahan seriesPeter May's Lewis trilogy: Set in the Outer Hebrides (Scotland), these books follow Detective Inspector Fin Macleod, who returns to his native Lewis Island to investigate a murder that caught the attention of his Edinburgh police superiors. The atmosphere of the first book, The Blackhouse, is haunting and Fin's personal journey is as gripping as the mystery. The final book in the trilogy was published in 2013. The audiobooks are a great help with the Gaelic language.

Keith McCafferty's Stranahan series: This is a contemporary mystery series set in Montana featuring Sean Stranahan, who moved to the state to start over after a divorce. He's an artist, a fly fisherman, and a private investigator. When he becomes involved in murders, he works with Sheriff Martha Ettinger. The books highlight fly fishing and the outdoor life but also include environmental issues and other modern-day concerns. There's a good mix of crime and Stranahan's personal life. The series is 7 books long and counting. I finished book 2, The Gray Ghost Murders.

J. D. Robb's In Death seriesJ. D. Robb's In Death series: This series has three faces, and I love them all. Set in a futuristic New York, the books, starring police homicide detective Eve Dallas are part science fiction, with very cool technology and off-planet settlements. The murders are gritty, dark and not for the faint of heart, giving these books a place in the police procedural sub-genre. Finally, Eve's hot and heavy relationship with her extremely handsome and very, very rich husband, Roarke, gives this adult series a romance element. I finished book 10, Witness in Death, this fall. Only 37 more books to go before the newest book is published in February 2019.

 I wish I could say these were the only series I read or started this year, but I can't. I confess to reading all kinds of series: fantasy/speculative fiction, general fiction, historical fiction and probably others. What's more, The series featured today aren't the only mystery series I'm actively reading (really; sigh). I told you I had a problem.

Are you a serial reader?


marmee 12/21/18, 6:50 AM  

Oh my word yes! I read series , I love series , I prefer series! I enjoy the familiarity of the world that is created and can be returned to. Some of my favourites : Louise Penny's Gamache series , really appreciate the character development in that one. And Susan Hill 's Simon Serrailer series. There is a stunning American series by Stephen F Havill that is top of the pops for me. Good writing, great characterisation, no dependence on blood and guts to keep the reader interested ...and if you are just starting , well, lucky you there are a lot!!

Mae Travels 12/21/18, 7:15 AM  

"No, I'm not addicted to series" -- my reaction to your first paragraph. Then as I kept going with your list, I realized I've read almost all the Inspector Montalbano books (the last few aren't quite as good as the earlier ones); most of Louise Penny's Gamache series (also IMHO decreasing in quality lately); most of Hercule Poirot and Mrs. Marple (plus TV & movie versions); all the Cormoran Strikes (some twice, plus BBC series); almost all of Donna Leon's Brunetti series; every one of Lovesey's Peter Diamond books (binge read) plus some of his other series; and I probably could go on.

What me.... never!

Have a good holiday ... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

rhapsodyinbooks 12/21/18, 7:33 AM  

I am totally addicted, even if the series loses momentum or interest over time. I still feel compelled to keep going. Besides, it's kind of easier since you already know the background and characters.

bermudaonion 12/21/18, 8:28 AM  

I used to be obsessed with reading series in order but now I dip in and out of them.

Tina 12/21/18, 9:47 AM  

Yes, I am a series person for sure. Usually I read them one after another but I will admit to taking my time with the DCI Banks series. It was/is written in real time so I got see him get older, watch the children grow up.

Love Aaron Falk series and I am starting up with The Shetland series by Ann Cleeves this upcoming year.

Vicki 12/21/18, 11:01 AM  

I'm not very good at following a series to the end.

Amanda 12/21/18, 12:22 PM  

I adore the Cormoran Strike novels!! Career of Evil was my favorite so far.

Les in Oregon 12/21/18, 12:33 PM  

I love a good series, too, but am always behind! I'm currently listening to the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths, but have six more to go after this one. I've recently begun listening to Joy Ellis' Nicki Galena series, but have seven more in that series. I'm waaaay behind with the Louise Penny series (have only read two!), but I'm hoping to make progress with that one in 2019. I've read two of Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler books and loved them, so why haven't I read more?? Thankfully, I got in on Jane Harper's series when it first began, so I'm up to date on that one! Of course, there are only two published so far... You get the idea. :) Maybe I should devote the entire upcoming year to catching up on all of these series. Ha!

Debbie Rodgers 12/21/18, 4:15 PM  

Yes, I am, I am . . . a series reader. But I haven't read any of these but for the first one. Some sound right up my alley.

I think my favourite series is Bruno, Chief of Police, set in southwest France. They are, as you said in describing Montalbano: "murder, social commentary, and humor, not to mention the excellent food descriptions", not to mention the history and the cultural aspects.

(Diane) bookchickdi 12/21/18, 4:49 PM  

That is a lot of series! I read Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, and Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope series. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Mr. BFR.

Mary R. 12/21/18, 5:55 PM  

I think of series as being like stocked up canned goods, when you need them they will be there so you can always be sure to have a book to read (or a meal to eat). I keep the next book in each of my series (there are probably at least a dozen that I am working on) or the first book of any new ones I come across on my good reads list so I know where I am up to on each one and eventually I could get them all read, but if that happens I will be unprepared and that would be bad.I say enjoy your series and the only thing to worry about is keeping track of where you left off.

Clarissa 12/22/18, 6:51 AM  

Darn you! Now I have lots more on my list. If you like Sherlock, I suggest you add Mary Russell series by Laurie King. I’ve also been enjoying the Lady Hardcastle series just as much for the narrator as for the stories - same with the Amelia Peabody series.

Jackie McGuinness 12/22/18, 11:20 AM  

Oh yes, I love these series too. Just finished Force of Nature and and hooked on Jane Harper.
I've always loved Peter May.

Jackie McGuinness 12/22/18, 11:22 AM  

And then Mae mentioned Penny Gamache series, which I also love. Tina mentioned Banks, oh yes!!!

Daryl 12/23/18, 1:32 PM  

i, too, am addicted to series especially those like Louise Penny's Three Pines which over time has never disappointed .. i stumbled on a new one - sigh - C.S. Harris' Sebastian St Cyr ... set in Regency London its a pleasure and delight and i have read 10 ... so far ... and i recommend it/them

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