The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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General Chat > My hero got old!

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message 1: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I'm fond of detective and thriller series with continuing characters, but I'm torn on the subject of the characters aging.
John Sandford's Lucas Davenport, in the Prey series, changes jobs, gets married, gets promoted. Time passes and he ages.
Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin stayed the same age from the 1930's to the 1960's.
John D. McDonald's Travis McGee seems to age.

Which do you prefer and why?


message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Being a fanatic Nero Wolfe fan, I prefer the "never aging" situation.......I can't imagine Wolfe and Archie getting on in years...their persona's are so set in the reader's mind that the changes brought about by age would not be acceptable to the fan.....or at least that is my humble opinion. However, some detectives do well moving forward in age.....look at Hercule Poirot -
....he would have been at least 125 years old when he died in "Curtain" ......now that is aging!!!!!


message 3: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I agree about Archie & Nero, I want them always to be there on 35th Street if I need them.


message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Oh how true.....I own and have read all of the books as well as those related to the character, such as
Stout Fellow: A Guide Through Nero Wolfe's World. I thoroughly enjoyed the A&E series a few years ago starring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.


message 5: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I did, too. I was unsure about Hutton, but he captured Archie's spirit. I also liked the made-for-tv "Nero Wolfe", a version of "The Doorbell Rang".


message 6: by Gary (new)

Gary Proctor | 20 comments It's a double edged sword. I really prefer to read character series like J.A. Jance JP Beaumont and Michael Connelly's Bosch books. I like that they age because they grow and the books are very connected by other characters whose relationships grow and or change wrt the main character. The flip side though, is that they cannot live forever and as such, I know will have to fade away with age. Both of these characters were in their mid 40's when their respective series started and at the rate of 1 book a year it does not take long before you have a 70 year old detective trying to dodge bullets!


message 7: by Gary (new)

Gary Proctor | 20 comments I guess the trick is to do like Vince Flynn did with Mitch Rapp and go back in time and write some books about the early years! This can't be very easy when you are dealing with correctly writing about technology from maybe 10-15 years ago!


message 8: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments Scientific American had an article about Batman (!) that said he would probably last about 3 years before the wear and tear on his body would accumulate to the point where he couldn't operate anymore. I think the example they used was NFL running backs.

I'm not prepared to give up on an action hero after only 3 years (or 3 books, whichever comes first).

I do like my characters to learn from their experiences.


message 9: by Beth (new)

Beth | 408 comments I like the lead characters of the mystery series I read to age and grow and change a little, but not by leaps and bounds. In my own case, I tend to set my books a few months apart so the characters age slowly--much more slowly than their author does! ;-)


message 10: by Don (new)

Don Ariff (arkenseal) | 15 comments Beth wrote: "I like the lead characters of the mystery series I read to age and grow and change a little, but not by leaps and bounds. In my own case, I tend to set my books a few months apart so the characters..."

This reminds me of Poirot. Which character do have in mind?


message 11: by Sally (new)

Sally | 38 comments I loved Steven Saylor's mystery series set in ancient Rome. His characters did age through the series to the point that the series eventually ended. Maybe this was an opportunity for the author to gracefully stop writing this series and move on to something else but I do miss these characters.


message 12: by Channing (new)

Channing Hayden | 2 comments Beth wrote: "I like the lead characters of the mystery series I read to age and grow and change a little, but not by leaps and bounds. In my own case, I tend to set my books a few months apart so the characters..."

I think this is the answer. It also has the advantage of requiring the action to take place in a short period of time, which keeps each story moving.


message 13: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments For me it definitely depends on the character. I can't see Miss Marple changing, or Nero Wolfe ... or for that matter, Travis McGee, though McGee aged in the respect that he became more cynical perhaps.

Other characters need to evolve, change, age. In the case of Sandford's Lucas Davenport, I think things needed to change as he'd pretty much gone as far as he could with the serial killer vs. police detective scenario. I've found the last few books more interesting because of the changes.


message 14: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I see Sandford's Virgil Flowers character as a way to gracefully retire Davenport. Sandford can still write in his created universe, doesn't have to reinvent the wheel and can use a lot of the same characters. Unfortunately, and I don't know why, I'm not really taken with Flowers.


message 15: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments I tend to agree with you on this. I liked the first couple of books better than this last one. I'm not sure if it was the plot, general grim feel and the child abuse theme which I don't much care for. Am interested to see what I think of the one being published this year as that will probably determine whether I continue with it or not.

I actually liked Sandford's Kidd books very well ... wish he'd have continued with those.


message 16: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I think Flowers might need a Watson. Davenport had Del and Weather. It would give Flowers (and Sandford) the opportunity to talk about the case, set out some red herrings and react to each other.


message 17: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments That could well be part of it. He just seems 'not quite there' if you know what I mean ... not as much of a real person and more of a character. I'm hoping for more depth, I think. I probably need to go back and re-read some of the early Prey books and see if I'm comparing apples and oranges ... a much more mature Davenport with a younger Flowers.


message 18: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments I thought Davenport was a bit of a construct in the first book, I thought the 2nd (Shadow) was Sandford trying to find his feet, and around the third, he got tempo. I loved Winter Prey, where he meets Weather.


message 19: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments I liked Shadow Prey, in part because I spent much of my life in Montana and grew up on a ranch between the Cheyenne and Crow Indian reservations so am quite familiar with some of the background in that book. Sandford did get some of the attitudes right which is usually my complaint when most people build a plot around Native American thoughts/beliefs/attitudes if they have not been involved in the culture at all.

Winter Prey was excellent and he and Weather worked well from the beginning. I did think some of the 'after Weather' books weren't as strong but then for me, Naked Prey, his first case after moving to the new job, was excellent. Seemed as if everything managed to pick up again and I think he's done quite well at working the family life in without making it intrusive.


message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael Wallace As a writer, I can't imagine writing the same thing over and over. The same characters is another story, but it would get boring unless things change over time. One of those changes is the aging of the characters.

Of course, the good thing about a series where nothing changes from book to book is that you can pick them up out of order. So as a reader, that doesn't bother me so much.


message 21: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments A lot can be done with a character without aging him - a lot of the Nero Wolfe books were about 1) creating a rigid structure (Wolfe never leaves his office) and 2) surprising the reader by leaving it in the dust.

I think times have changed, though. Readers need more of a nod to reality than the ageless characters. I could be wrong and my sampling of series characters isn't unlimited.

I like the Wolfe books for the same reason I like (some) series television. If I like the original concept, I want more.


message 22: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 182 comments I have mixed feelings. I think it depends on the series. I love the way Bosch is changed by events in his life. He grows.

But I also like that Kinsey Milhoun stays in the same years.

I think for me I just like well written chars


message 23: by Robert J. (new)

Robert J. Sullivan (robertjsullivan) | 22 comments Where is Bosch from?


message 24: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35947 comments Bosch is from LA.

I think Grafton once explained why Kinsey doesn't age. We are reading the books about the cases. One case might happen a week after the last case. So that while it has taken her beaucoup years to write them - they only take place in a matter of a couple of years.


message 25: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Good point re: Kinsey, Jan. Unlike the Nero Wolfe books, where the world changed around them but he and Archie never aged.....but I like it that way.


message 26: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
I'm of mixed minds on this. There is something comforting about opening a Poirot or Nero Wolfe, for example, and knowing exactly how Hercule or Nero is going to be. It is also interesting to see a character grow and change like Jim Chee in the Tony Hillerman series. I think it boils down to good writing and good story telling.


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