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?