Tackling a Series

For some reason it’s been years, decades even, since I tackled a mystery series in order from start to finish. Come to think of it, I even went out of order on one of the Harry Potter books. It’s not that I can’t wait to find out how it ends since I rarely ever peek at an ending.

I think it has more to do with not wearing out the characters' and author’s welcome. Taken all at once the mechanics of a series can become obvious, creakingly obvious in some cases. The set pieces become too familiar and the recurring motifs get downright annoying. Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury series is a prime example. Read a year or so apart one doesn’t notice the fact that the last dozen or so books all feature a preternaturally intelligent dog and at least one child, both of which thoroughly befuddle Melrose Plant. You’d think he’d have picked up some pointers by now.

Still I want to tackle P. D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh series in one continuous, if not chronological effort. I’ve already started out of order – Unnatural Death is the third in the series – and I’ll be rereading some of the books. And I’ll be listening to them instead of reading them. Despite all these caveats I’m looking forward to reading the books closely enough together to see the evolution over nearly 50 years. I guess this is my tribute of sorts to P. D. James and her durable series. I’m willing to risk a little over familiarity.

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