In a group I ‘belong’ to on social media, a question was asked about book series, it was about crime novels but I think could apply to any books: ‘Should crime series come to a natural end…or should they just go on and on? I see that Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks series is now on 27…having started in 1987!!..and quite a few who I am following are getting up to 20. I often think the backstory gets a bit flat as the series goes on….and sometimes the main storyline. Or, would we miss “an old friend”?
I inadvertently started to write a series, my Radwinter stories. The first one was a stand alone about a man, Thomas Radwinter, exploring his family history. He followed his Radwinter line back to an ancestor who had travelled from war-torn Europe and eventually settled in my imaginary town of Easthope. When I’d finished it, as usual the characters lingered on, but unusually I felt as if there was another part of Thomas’s story to write, following his maternal line. That was going to be it, a sequel, but then I – or he – realised that he hadn’t written the story of the people who brought him up, so my books became a trilogy, and then there were unresolved issues with his brothers…a quartet, and so it went on and now I’m writing number eight. So I can see how an author gets involved with their characters and standalones become a series.
The question that was posed was specifically about crime novels though, and as the questioner mentions the Alan Banks series where the character is now nearly thirty-five years older than when we first ‘met’ him and Peter Robinson is writing within one genre I do wonder how much more he can wring out of his people. I loved Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series and thought her writing was brilliant; however, as I’ve mentioned here, by about book 14 I did feel Anna Pigeon was getting a bit old for all the physical experiences she had to endure, book 15 made me feel more so, and what was worse, I didn’t think her writing was as good, book 16, I really didn’t care and I’m not sure I even finished it.
Another series I was really engaged with was by Graham Hurley, another excellent writer. The series began to become darker as the main character, Joe Faraday sinks into a depression, as other characters become more prominent and the main focus of the story. Graham Hurley obviously felt his character had run out of steam, the backstory gets a bit flat, as the person who posted on social media put it, and he ended his involvement in a terminal way which meant he could never have a return! I was upset by it – but I understand why it was done; I didn’t mind Faraday being written out of the series, but I felt a little cheated.
The current series I’m totally engaged with, and the latest being published next week (which I recommend as I’ve already read it!!!) is the DCI Nick Dixon series by Damien Boyd, which I’m delighted to say shows no sign of flagging in any department!
Here is a link to Damien’s page:
and here is a link to my Radwinter series: