Thanks Hamlet for the quote
I read a lot of series of books. Over the last few years they have mostly been crime. And I have to say that recently there have been some disappointments. This is a shame because I have never been disappointed in say, the Anne books by LM Montgomery, or similar, nobody could suffer any ennui reading those. No, I am talking about the long running detective series that we all know and love.
First up, I have just finished reading the latest Camilla Lackberg featuring Patrik Hedstrom and found it slightly underwhelming. The story line runs alongside Patrik's family life, as in most long running series and at the end of each title there is usually an open ending when something has happened to him or his wife or his sister in law or his brother in law or something. They usually fit in with the narrative of the book and are understandable and acceptable. But in this last one, Buried Angels, I find it such an obvious tack on that it irritated. Patrik has a wife who interferes in EVERYTHING. She is an author and clearly resents being at home with the children, ok fine understandable, but does that mean she has to go behind his back, get one of his colleagues involved in her meddling and then places herself and him in danger with a mad murderer? She gets into trouble every single time. Patrik seems to take this all in his stride when, quite frankly, she needs a smack in the face with a wet haddock and a good bollocking. Her sister is just as daft and it is her action which leaves us with an open ending. I am rapidly losing patience with the whole lot of them.
And I love the dual story line, going back in time and then back to the present, but this too is wearing a little thin as Lackberg has used it in every single book. I will give the next one a chance and see what I think but but but...
The Inspector Lynley books by Elizabeth George I gave up on some time ago, the last one being so unbelievably bad and tedious I could not believe that it was allowed to go on for nearly 500 pages.
Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks. Love these and the latest one, Abattoir Blues, was a return to form of sorts, or at least it was compared to Children of the Revolution, which was pretty poor. We know that the author is an aficionado of pop music as he rabbits on about it all the time, page after page describing which bands he likes and what pop festivals he attended as a younger man (in the persona of Inspector Banks of course) and when coming across all this persiflage I feel like yelling enough already. In fact I probably did.
The Roy Grace Books - Peter James. One of my favourite series, set in Brighton but, again, we have a long running story line which the author has obviously got fed up with and so has killed a character off in a car accident. In the last one another irritating character and a pain in the neck also met her end in a car crash. Death as a way out because you are fed up with writing about a person and cannot bear them any more is a bit of a cop out in my humble. Also this last book was rather gory and, shall we say, unnecessary? Yes, we will.
Personal - Lee Childs. Now we all know that Jack Reacher is a man who roams around the US with nothing in his pocket but a toothbrush and a bit of money. We know he hates possessions and being tied down and , quite frankly, he is becoming a bit of a bore. This latest one was really really poor and I got the impression that the author had copied and pasted bits of his other books and bunged a few sentences in. I gather that there has been a rumour that he does not write his books himself (this is wrong as the author has said any falling off is down to him) and really, I could probably write one myself. Ok I can't but feels like it.
And then we come to one of my favourite series, the Brunetti books set in Venice by Donna Leon. Oh how humdrum and dreary and repetitive they have become, no character development, all is the same, corrupt Venice, corrupt politicians, baddies get off, goodies sit and weep and Brunetti goes home for lunch every day to a three course meal cooked by Paola who is Simply Perfect in Every Way (can't seem to get away from Mary Poppins at the moment) and does nothing but read Henry James and loll. She has become acutely irritating and Brunetti is going the same way, full of philosophical nothings. The last two in the series have been trite and tedious. I think Donna Leon wants to stop because she has nothing left to say, but daresay her publishers won't let her.
We know that Dame Agatha got fed up with Poirot and wished she had never invented him, but there was no sign of this at all as she turned out one excellent mystery after another. Some were less good, naturally, and as she got older some of them were all over the place, but I never felt that she was not trying to do her best, or that she would take the easy way out. Even the book in which Poirot finally meets his maker, was wonderfully written. Of course we are given a clue as to her real feelings towards her creation in her wonderful character Ariadne Oliver, who many believe was based on Dame Agatha herself. Perhaps by using her to vent gave her an outlet so she could carry on writing her books with a fresh eye.
Ngaio Marsh and D L Sayers also kept up the standard as did the wonderful PD Jame with Inspector Dalgliesh. Only falling off in her writing was Death at Pemberley which she really should not have attempted.
So far the Michael Connelly books are keeping well up to standard and perhaps flipping backwards beween his two heroes, Harry Bosch and Micky Haller keeps him fresh. Hope so anyway. The Montalbano books are as funny and fresh now as they were when they started and long may it remain so.
I do appreciate how difficult it must be to write story after story and keep interested so I really should not moan. Know I couldn't do it but I just get disappointed when I eagerly grab the latest and find it lacklustre.
OK moan over. Go and put the kettle on...