Series, Series, . . .

Careless In RedI finished another Elizabeth George novel today, one in her series of mystery novels.  I’m stuck in the series.  I ‘ve often been stuck in such series and have churned my way through many of them.  I like best the ones wherein the novels in the series are sequential and characters change and develop from book to book.  One of the best such series going today is the Easy Rawlins series of mysteries by Walter Moseley.  I’ve also liked some series that are not sequential and in which the protagonist(s) are the same in every book – they just do their thing and don’t change from book to book.  One such is the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross McDonald.  Coincidently, both the Archer and the Rawlins mysteries take place in southern California in the mid-twentieth century.

Other than mysteries, I’ve been engrossed in series with military themes, the most notable of which take place during the Napoleonic Wars and have British heroes:

  • The Aubrey–Maturin series, by Patrick O’Brian, about the British navy in the age of sail
  • The Hornblower series, also about the British navy in the age of sail, by C. S. Forester
  • The Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell.  Sharpe is a rifleman in Wellington’s armies in India, Spain, and eventually at Waterloo.

I could list lots of others, series by A. Conan Doyle, Martha Grimes, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham,  E.E. “Doc” Smith (science fiction that my brother and I were plowing through at the same time), John D. MacDonald with his Travis McGee series, Rex Stout with Nero Wolfe, and on, and on, and on.  I know I’ve read others, but you can’t expect me to remember them all although I did just remember some from my high-school days; the adventure yarns of Alistair MacLean and Ian Fleming’s James Bond books.  If I go back a bit further I would have to throw in series for young readers like the Tom Swift books and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books.

I have to stop writing.  I keep remembering other series.  I’ll never finish this post unless I just come to a full, abrupt stop.

What series have you enjoyed?


CarthageI finished Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates.  Good book.  I was engrossed for most of the book.  A couple sections became a bit tedious, but for the most part it was engrossing.  I was impressed by how Oates seamlessly incorporated a number of social issues without it becoming obvious or over-burdening the plot.  Oates writes about the United States’s system of incarceration, not directly as in non-fiction, nor in a didactic, opinionated style.  Her picture is just part of the novel, part of the plot.  Similarly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and post-traumatic stress.  All of this as the background of a good story.  And as Stephen King says, you first have to tell a good story.

I’ve now read two Oates novels in the last couple of months after getting to age 65 without reading one.  I’ve looked at her novels in book stores, but never quite wanted to read one.  That ended when I was curious about the title of her last novel before Carthage; The Accursed.  I read the dust jacket and bought the book.  Same thing happened with Carthage; I was attracted by the title.  I’m sure I will read more of  her books.

Christmas Gifts and Words Of Wisdom

Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.

-editor Lenore Hershey, who held the top spot at McCall’s magazine and The Ladies’ Home Journal

I am fortunate to have two, good local bookstores in easy driving distance.  Common Good Books, Garrison Keillor’s store, is in St. Paul about a half hour away.  Here in downtown Stillwater is Valley Booksellers, about five minutes away.  Both are great stores that I patronize as much as possible.  I also buy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I use the Carnegie library in Stillwater.

The Words Of Wisdom in this post’s title are not mine, they are from Precious Ramotswe and other characters from Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.  In case you don’t know,  Mma Ramotswe is the owner and top detective in the agency.  The word of wisdom that follow are from the second book in the series, Tears Of the Giraffe.

This was part and parcel of marriage, he assumed; there could be no secrets – everything has to be laid bare.

A man who is well looked-after becomes fatter.  They are just like cattle.  That is well-known.

All ladies believe in diamonds.  That is one thing on which all ladies agree.

All engaged ladies in modern circles receive diamond rings these days.  It is a sign that they are appreciated.

Old diesel engines were generally reliable, but there came a point in their existence when they simply had to be pensioned off.

.  . . how easy it was to find oneself committed to a course of action simply because one lacked the courage to say no.

You should try to marry a policeman, a mechanic, or a minister of religion, she said, and you should never marry a politician, a barman, or a taxi driver.  These people always caused a great deal of trouble for their wives.
“And you shouldn’t marry a trumpeter,” added Mma Ramotswe.  “I made that mistake.  I married a bad man called Note Mokoti.  He played the trumpet.”
“I’m sure that they are not good people to marry,” said Mma Tsbago.  “I shall add them to my list.”

Learn the easy things first and then learn the difficult things.  Not the other way round.

Only those who really understood machinery could conceive of happiness in an engine; it was an insight which the non-mechanically minded simply lacked.

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)I’ve now read the first two books in the series.  The first was The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  I found both books delightful.   In addition to enjoying  The Tears Of the Giraffe,  I felt better after finishing it; I felt like a better person for having read the book.  I found the main characters in the book interesting and admirable; worthy of doing my best to emulate, to want to help others have better lives.   I gave the book four stars on, but am still thinking of changing to five stars.

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