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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , crime authors, curtain, , , , henning mankell, , , new yorked, potter's field, rob hart, , sleeping murder, their time had come,   

    6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily 

    Having a hit series of books and a popular character that readers respond to is usually the dream of an author of an genre, but especially the authors of detective novels. But it can also become a burden, trapping the writer in a universe and a type of story that remains in literary amber. Still, most writers happily plug away at a series as long as readers keep showing up, and usually the only reason a popular detective stops accepting new cases is because the author retires…from this mortal coil. But not always; sometimes a writer decides to retire a character voluntarily for their own private reasons—like the six authors on this list.

    Sherlock Holmes, authored by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Doyle famously tried to walk away from Holmes in 1893’s The Final Problem, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls as he struggled with archenemy Professor Moriarity. Doyle regarded his Holmes stories as literary trifles and wanted to focus on more serious writing; he managed to resist the constant pleas for more Holmes stories for eight years before giving in and writing The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1901 and kicking off a second wave of Holmes stories that continued until Doyle passed away.

    Pete Fernandez, authored by Alex Segura
    Segura’s Pete Fernandez has been one of the most interesting noir detective characters in recent years, going from a shambling wreck of a life and career to something resembling stability over the course of four tightly plotted, Miami-infused novels. Segura has decided that Miami Midnight, the fifth book in the series, will be the last Fernandez mystery. Which is a shame, because Midnight digs deep into Pete as a character as he’s pulled from unofficial retirement from his unofficial career as a detective, asked by a local gang kingpin to look into the death of his son, a musician. One of the great things Segura has done with Fernandez is make his personal struggles as compelling as the cases he investigates without resorting to overblown mythology. Pete’s interesting because of the sort of personal mysteries we all carry around with us, and he’ll be missed.

    Ash McKenna, authored by Rob Hart
    McKenna’s an interesting character, a self-described “blunt instrument” who begins a journey to being a real, complete person in Hart’s New Yorked, and then continues that journey through three more books that take him all over the world. Hart’s decision to make Potter’s Field the last McKenna novel had everything to do with ending that story of personal development, of finishing the character’s tale purposefully. While he hasn’t ruled out another McKenna story at some point, it’s refreshing to see an author so in control of their character they end their series when the time feels right to them.

    Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, authored by Agatha Christie
    Christie is an unusual case, because she did, in fact, write about her two most popular characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, until she died. But she also voluntarily ended both series—three decades earlier. During World War II Christie worried she might not survive, and worried that meant her greatest literary creations would be orphaned without a proper send off. Her solution was to write a final case for both Poirot and Marple, then lock them away with a stipulation that they not be published until she passed away. As a result, Poirot’s final novel, Curtain published in 1975 and Marple’s, Sleeping Murder, published in 1976 just after Christie’s death. While locking novels away for thirty years on the assumption that people will still care in the future is pretty presumptuous, it certainly paid off for Christie and her fans.

    Peter Wimsey, authored by Dorthy Sayers
    Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey isn’t as famous as his contemporaries like Poirot, but he was one of the stars of early-20th century detective fiction—and the ultimate “gentleman detective” character. Wimsey was quite popular, but Sayers’ last Wimsey novel was 1937’s Busman’s Honeymoon, and aside from a short story and some references she never returned to the character. There’s speculation that Sayers, horrified at the violence and terror of World War II, decided she could no longer write about murders and the like. Which is a shame, because Wimsey, who began as a somewhat comical figure, developed into a marvelous and subtle character, and the world could have done with two or three more Wimsey novels.

    Kurt Wallander, authored by Henning Mankell
    Mankell seemed to be planning the end of Kurt Wallander, the depressed, junk food-addicted Swedish detective, more or less since his debut in 1991’s Faceless Killers. Wallander aged with the march of time, and Mankell at one point tried to pivot into a spinoff series with a new character before returning to Wallander. 2009’s The Troubled Man was the definitive final adventure for Wallander, and the character was depicted as dealing with the first symptoms of oncoming dementia, perhaps the worst thing that could afflict a man who relies on his mind and his memory. Mankell continued to write until his death in 2015, but he never returned to Wallander.

    There’s a power in deciding when and where to end your creation. What’s your favorite character’s ending?

    The post 6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 3:30 pm on 2015/04/16 Permalink
    Tags: , elementary my dear watson, frank hayes, , , henning mankell, , , ,   

    6 Gritty Gumshoes: Our Favorite Hard-boiled Detectives are on the Case 

     Is there anything more satisfying than a stellar detective story? A good gumshoe is observant, hyper curious, and passionate about making the world a safer, more just place. The most interesting detectives also usually happen to be deeply flawed human beings. These tortured souls are often burdened with pasts so dark that only solving cases and catching criminals can lighten their psychic loads. Feeling a little weighed down by the monotony of your non-detective life? Not to worry! The modern-day Sherlocks below are the on the case.

    Jack Taylor (The Guards, by Ken Bruen)
    Jack Taylor is a usually drunk, always irritable, but nevertheless keen detective who has recently been sacked from the Irish police force. Caught midway between an impulse to crawl into a pint glass and a burning desire to become Ireland’s premier private detective, Taylor will have to prove his mettle to his Galway community and himself on his journey from roguedom to redemption. He will have a chance to do just that when a woman interrupts his boozy reverie with a case that demands all of his faculties. Despite his overly gruff demeanor and often terrible manners, Jack manages to win readers over with his do-gooder spirit and heart of gold.

    Myron Bolitar (Deal Breaker, by Harlan Coben)
    Although Myron Bolitar is a sports agent, his many past lives have included lawyer and FBI agent. So, you know, a little investigating isn’t going to scare him off. That’s a good thing, too, since Myron’s newly acquired career as an all-American star quarterbackis about to take a nosedive thanks to the mystery of an ex-girlfriend’s disappearance. That’s when his latent detective skills kick into action, exposing the seedy underbelly of the competitive sports industry, a world replete with lies, greed, and violence. Will Myron, with the help of his witty and lethal sidekick, Win, be able to take back the game with only seconds on the clock? One thing is for sure: readers will be rooting for him.

    Cassie Maddox (The Likeness, by Tana French)
    Detective Cassie Maddox is still reeling from the biggest murder investigation of her career when another killer of a case comes her way. When a fateful phone call summons Cassie to a murder scene, she is hardly prepared to find that the victim is her own spitting image. Stranger still, the victim is carrying identification that bears the name of Cassie’s former undercover alias. It quickly becomes clear that Cassie must assume the victim’s identity in order to catch her killer. This feat will require that she shed light on her own shadowy past in order to recognize the person staring back at her in the mirror. What follows is a psychological thriller that will keep even the most seasoned crime novel connoisseur guessing until the very end.

    Kurt Wallander (Faceless Killers, by Henning Mankell)
    Written in the ‘90s and boasting several TV adaptations to its credit, the Wallander books can safely categorized as modern detective classics. As one delves into the mind and life of Swedish sleuth Kurt Wallander, one can easily see why. When an elderly farmer is slain on his property and his wife left for dead, Wallander is called upon to solve a case that seems to have every intention of going cold. Unlike many contemporary crime novels, this story eschews nitty-gritty forensic details in favor of good, old-fashioned detective work. Wallander is as dogged in his pursuit of the truth as he is haunted by the shambles that is his personal life. A divorce, a forbidden attraction, and an estranged relationship with his daughter provide the reader with a rich context for the sadness that permeates Wallander’s world, and the novel’s slow build works well with the austere, captivating backdrop of the Swedish landscape.

    Virgil Dalton (Death at the Black Bull, by Frank Hayes)
    Virgil Dalton has been the sheriff of Hayward, a sleepy Southwestern town, for about a dozen years. Like any small town, Hayward has its share of hidden dirt. From a conniving matriarch to a good ole’ boy up to no good, all the gears start grinding when Virgil discovers a dead body in the most unlikely of places. Throughout the novel, we get to know Virgil as a stoic, good-natured man of the people who is plagued with regret and a deep longing for times gone by. Virgil just barely manages to keep up with the body count in Hayward as this tiny town gets its first taste of big-city villainy. He must use all of  his shrewd policing skills to catch the killer, and along the way, he just might solve some of his own private mysteries. A vivid cast of characters, an ode to the sun-splashed mesas of the Southwest, and a shocker of an ending round out this impressive mystery.

    Camille Preaker (Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn)
    So, strictly speaking, Camille Preaker is not so much a detective as she is a frazzled reporter coming off of a recent stay at a mental institution. When her Missouri hometown is suddenly struck by one girl’s murder and another’s disappearance, Camille finds herself thrust back into the past with alarming force as she returns to cover the story. As Camille begins to identify more and more with the victims, her desire to unearth their fates is mirrored by her quest to understand her own history. This newshound-turned-bloodhound may be scarred, but she learns to wear her past wounds without shame in her fierce battle for what all detectives (and journalists) are after: the truth.

    Who are your favorite hard-boiled detectives?

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 7:23 pm on 2014/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: an event in autumn, henning mankell, leann sweeney, , , , , spencer quinn,   

    Mystery Roundup: A Dog with Good Instincts, and a Cat with Bad Luck 

    The Long Way HomeThis week’s roundup features a new Armand Gamache novel, a canine detective, and a half-buried body.

    The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny
    In the tenth novel in Penny’s beloved Armand Gamache series, the retired detective, who wants nothing more than to rest and recuperate from his last harrowing adventure, discovers that he is not quite retired enough to avoid taking on another case—that of his close friend, Clara, whose artist husband, Peter Morrow, has gone missing. Although he hates to leave the newfound sanctuary of Three Pines, Gamache finds himself drawn deeper into the heart of Quebec, and into the chilling mystery surrounding Morrow’s disappearance. A nuanced and fascinating exploration of the ways in which artists handle their own as well as each other’s successes and failures, this intricately layered novel is continued proof of Penny’s mastery of the genre. (Available in hardcover and NOOK on August 26)

    Paw & Order: A Chet and Bernie Mystery, by Spencer Quinn
    Canine Chet and his private investigator owner, Bernie, go to Washington, D.C., in the smart, charming seventh novel in the Chet and Bernie mystery series. It’s a tough town, and Bernie finds himself under arrest when, after he visits his reporter girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, one of her sources goes missing. He and Chet are soon drawn into an ominous conspiracy that may or may not involve a very powerful guinea pig named Barnum. If you love dogs, well-crafted mysteries, and insider politics, this one should definitely be on your to-read list. (Available in hardcover and Nook August 5)

    The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim, by Leann Sweeney
    If felines are more your style, the latest book in the Cats in Trouble mystery series will be perfect for you! (Note how I didn’t say “purr-fect”? I think more highly of you than that, dear readers.) In what should be a heartwarming tale, Clyde the kitty travels two hundred miles back home to his owner—only to find his owner dead. See? Not very heartwarming. Even stranger, Clyde’s owner, an elderly man who was already suffering from a serious illness, appears to have been murdered. After his heroic journey, Clyde becomes a media sensation, and cat quilter Jillian Hart volunteers to foster him in order to keep him safe and out of the public eye. But when Clyde finds another body, Jillian begins to see a motive behind the murders—and this time not even the cat is safe. (Available in paperback and NOOK on August 5)

    An Event in Autumn, by Henning Mankell
    This short novel offers an unsettling detour in the Kurt Wallander mystery series with its account of a disturbing event in Wallander’s life. Shortly before his retirement, the Swedish detective visits an old, abandoned farmhouse in the countryside—and makes the gruesome discovery of a corpse buried in a shallow grave. As he begins to dig deeper into the history of the house and its inhabitants, Wallander becomes fixated on discovering the long-hidden secrets surrounding the mysterious murder. A fascinating afterword from the author gives readers a glimpse into Mankell’s motivation for writing crime fiction. (Available in paperback and NOOK on August 12)

    What mysteries are you unearthing these days?

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