As a reader, there are some books which just seem to cry out for a sequel – not because the author has left things dangling, or certain plot lines open, or blatant suggestions of other things which might happen after the last page has turned; some books are just o gripping and engaging that the reader wants more! I don’t mean just mystery or action stories, it can be there are characters which the reader just wants to ‘meet’ again, or settings to revisit, or other aspects – historical detail or food as part of the narrative, a journey suggested but not taken.
If a sequel does arrive there is excitement, but also a little worry, anxiety almost that this second book won’t be as good as the first, and if it is and a third, fourth or other books follow, the anxiety increases! The books can’t continue to be as good or get better each time! Among a large readership with different ideas and tastes, there is bound to be something which doesn’t suit everyone.
I’ve read several series of novels – I don’t mean books written by the same author, I mean stories which continue the narrative from a previous novel.
The Pasco and Dalziel mysteries by Reg Hill; there are twenty-five novels – yes, twenty-five, what an achievement! The first eighteen I have read over and over again, times without number – literally. The first was published in 1970, and the eighteenth ‘On Beulah Heights’ in 1998. I have read some of the ones which came after, but for me there were characters brought to the fore who somehow didn’t ring true with me, and I found them inconsistent, and worst of all irritating and uninteresting – I just didn’t care about them, I didn’t want to read about them. Perhaps I should read the unread ones, just so I can say I’ve read them all. Among the first eighteen, so many stand out for different reasons, but ‘On Beulah Heights’ already mentioned, and ‘The Wood Beyond’ were in my opinion, the best.
The six Matthew Shardlake books by C.J.Sansome – all of them excellent! As gripping the second and subsequent reading as the first time! My favourite is ‘Heartstone’, but they are all equally good – I just hope the author might produce another!
The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch – extraordinary and defies description. They are all, all five, brilliant, and I don’t really have a favourite, perhaps the first because it was such a surprise when I started reading it, actually called The Rivers of London – although the last one, Foxglove Summer was unputdownable!
The twelve Joe Faraday novels by Graham Hurley – I loved these novels although there were certain dark aspects because of Faraday’s character. However, as with Reginald Hill, certain characters began to dominate and to me the books lost their balance and the endings frustrated me – not that I want everything all tied up neatly and everything solved and sorted – I don’t mind open endings, but when I got to the end and felt it had been a pointless read, that’s when I began to lose my enthusiasm. Something very particular happened to Faraday, which I won’t reveal, but having read that I felt so disappointed – and I guess sort of annoyed, that I gave all the books to the charity shop. Don’t let that discourage you – you might have a different attitude to it, and certainly a detective obsessed with bird-watching is an interesting character!
The Shetland novels by Ann Cleeves – the eight novel has just been published and I am reading it now. The books have also been made into a TV series, which although are very good have one major difficulty for me; the main character, the detective Jimmy Perez stands out from the other islanders as he has Spanish ancestry and is dark and obviously very different. This difference makes him a bit of an outsider, and also because he comes from Fair Isle, and it is mentioned again and again in the books, and is a big feature of his character – he actor in the TV series is blond… back to the books; I have enjoyed all of them, although a similar incident to the Faraday event, happened in one of them which almost discouraged me from reading more – similar in that is was shocking, not that it was a similar in what happened. However, I read the next book, and Cleeves was able to bring me round and I didn’t lose that sense of engagement as I had with the Hurley novels. I am reading the latest Cold Earth now, as I mentioned, and I’m staying up way to late to keep reading it – it’s that good!
I never intended to write a sequel let alone a series with any or my books; however after Radwinter it just seemed to happen, and number 5 should appear in time for Christmas!
Here is a link to all my books: