“But Wait There’s More”

I just finished the newly released third book in the Thursday murder club series by Richard Osman. I ended it wondering why I had not enjoyed it as much as the first two. Was it the book or me? For one, the mystery centers around money laundering. The only money laundering I understand is when freshly washed and dried paper money appears in the dryer after someone has forgotten to empty their pockets. So perhaps it was the topic.

However, it may also be that it is difficult to create the same novelty in a series of books after the first one. This certainly applies to many writers as they try, reasonably enough, to recreate the success, particularly financial, of a best seller. In the case of mystery series, of which there are a multitude, this requires both an intriguing plot and a focus on character development. As a child I was content that Nancy Drew stayed the same throughout numerous “Clue” books, but I am less happy with stock characters now. I occasionally appreciate a series such as that of Janet Evanovitch numbered ones with their steady group of Stephanie, Joe and Ranger, but I want more most of the time.

At the moment the writer who seems best able to carry out both intriguing plots and growth in characters is Louise Penny, a Canadian author who sets her novels in a small town in eastern Quebec. While the novels stand alone, they benefit from being read in order. Penny gives attention to character as much as plot, and starting at the first allows the reader to really get to know each person.

How are your experiences with mystery series? Have you found any that are worth reading?

21 thoughts on ““But Wait There’s More”

  1. I get the impression, with Richard Osman, that he thoroughly enjoyed writing the first Thursday Murder Mystery Club book but then was pressured by his publishers to produce number two, which turned out not quite as good, and now number three, even less so!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your comment about freshly washed money made me smile. It happens and we heave a sigh of relief when we see it is not torn to pieces 😁 I remember reading two books by an author whose name I forget, liking them very much . I got another book from the library and could not go beyond two chapters.


  3. Your mention of Nancy Drew made me recall Nancy’s counterpart—The Hardy Boys. Even as a kid, I thought it didn’t make sense that they had all this time on their hands to solve mysteries and seemingly never aged.


  4. I haven’t read any of his books, but Richard Osman is a very popular figure in Britain. As well as being a top-selling writer, he also creates and presents quiz shows on TV, appears as a panellist on others or as a chat show guest, and seems to be on TV somewhere every day of the weeek. He is also famous for being very tall! (6 feet 7 inches.)
    Best wishes, Pete.


  5. I have yet to start on Osman’s books but as I was reading your thoughts, Louise Penny’s series came immediately to mind as an example of how to build a series and avoid the pitfalls you’ve identified.


      1. Absolutely. I read them in order and in the season in which they are set as the sense of time and place is always so strong. I’m looking forward to seeing the forthcoming tv series with Alfred Molina as Gamache.


  6. I thought the second was a bit flat, to be honest. The first was a novel idea (excuse pun) but I wondered if it would have got past the slush pile if he hadn’t been a celebrity. I thought he was struggling a little with the next one.
    I enjoyed all Ian Rankin’s Rebus stories (novels about a Scottish detective) and I’m now working my way through some of Anne Cleves detective novels (televised as Vera and Shetland with a third series just started). But these are writers first and not celebrities.


  7. Ah yes, that difficult second album/book. Enjoyed book one, thought book two a waste of space and have ignored book three. Bit like Stieg Larsson and The Girl With.. series. PD James, too, ran out of steam eventually and became trite. I agree about Ann Cleeve and Rankin. As a slightly off beat approach to mystery crime, look at the Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which are a bit of fantasy as well as crime and the series pays. Do you like Sue Grafton and the Alphabet series? I’ve enjoyed most of them.
    PS for some reason WP ate my follow of your blog and, being a dumb male I didn’t notice until I saw a comment on another blog…


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