I read and review a lot of books on this blog. I never publish negative reviews as I believe personal taste should not negatively impact on somebody else’s writing.
If I don’t like a book supplied to me by a publisher I will contact them direct, with my reason for not liking the story.
This can be difficult when the books I am finding disappointing, are the latest in a series I’ve really liked.
The first time I gave up on a series I had previously enjoyed was Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books.
Back in 1991 Post Mortem was like a breath of fresh air to me. A cracking story, in my favourite genre, with a likeable and realistic main character.
But, by the time we got to Black Notice, in 1999, the stories were getting more fanciful, and although Cornwell ensured her main character’s procedures and techniques were current and realistic, the crimes were getting too fanciful.
The developing of Scarpetta’s niece, into a James Bond like character, spiralled the stories too far from credible for me to carry on reading the rest of the series.
Recently I have started to disengage with a series I’ve been reading for year’s. The first books in the series were great reads, then the author seemed to run out of ideas.
They recycle the same plot with different methods of murder but essentially keep retelling the same two or thee stories.
That got me thinking about other authors who write long series and why I don’t fall out with them.
My favourite series is now into the high teens in books. I’m finding it really hard not to name names as it would be unfair on the author who’s series I’ve fallen out with.
So why are those books still gripping me.
The main characters have remained largely the same since the series started.
There are recurring characters that have great background stories of their own, without being fanciful or undergoing unrealistic, or drastic changes in their persona.
There are some less often recurring characters that always add to the storyline. In fact I look forward to their appearances.
The crimes are always different in the way they are committed, but more importantly the circumstances around the crimes are always different.
I think one of the cleverest things this author did was unexpectedly kill a loved character in one of the books, which makes sure the reader is never going to take it for granted that there will be a happy ending to the stories.
So how long is too long.
I have no idea.
I always think of my first crime fixation, Sherlock Holmes. 4 novels and 56 short stories, and I never get fed up of reading them.
Originally many of the short stories were written as weekly series in a newspaper so Conan Doyle was probably working to a deadline.
That dispells one of my thoughts that maybe the modern author is publishing books too quickly, often two books a year.
Cornwell was publishing books every twelve to thirteen months and I fell out with her, so the time frame between books probably isn’t the issue.
At the end of the day it must just be down to personal preference.