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Random Chats > Stand alone mystery vs. series? Which one do you prefer?

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message 1: by Doina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:17PM) (new)

Doina | 18 comments I noticed that I tend to lean towards reading series, in all the genres that I am interested in. I like to see the character development throught the series, and how the plot changes with each book. I very rarely pick up a book that is not part of a series, unless it is a classic, non-fiction, poetry, or a novel that caught my eye. What about you? Do you like to read series vs. stand alone books? Are there certain genres like mystery or sci-fi where you read mostly series? Or do you not even notice?

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 22, 2007 04:46PM) (new)

I do love a good series, especially a comic one. Often following the characters through their adventures is more interesting than the actual mystery! Some personal favorites are the Amelia Peabody and Marco Falco Didio (sp? - it's been a while) series. Diana Killian's Poetic Death Mysteries are also good. It's too bad there are only three of them. There are some scenes so funny I had to stop reading in order to catch my breath!

message 3: by Drew (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:48PM) (new)

Drew (booksliesandalibis) | 4 comments When I can find a good mystery series, I'll rip right through it. I love to follow the characters (and the author) as they grow through the series. I have to admit, I actually like coming to a series late, that way I can read 5, 8, 10 books and I don't have to wait a year for the next to be published. I thoroughly enjoyed Laurie King's "Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes" series, as well as Lawrence Block's "Bernie Rhodenbarr" burglar series.
On the other hand, I often find that stand alone that just completely intrigues me from page one, like Gordon Campbell's "Missing Witness" or Michael Cox's Victorian noire mystery, "The Meaning of Night." I find myself wishing the author would continue on and create a series with the characters in these books.

message 4: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Jessica I love series (well, I love good series), simply because if I'm liking the characters, setting, and author's style, I just want more and more. I also like the way a meta-plot develops on top of each individual book's separate plot.

However, I won't turn away a good stand-alone. Probably the best one of those I've read recently was Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know.

message 5: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Rob (kanata) I agree about Lippman's What the Dead Know. It is on my top reads of the year.

I like both but I do think discovering a new series is a lovely pleasure. Reading a good book and then discovering there are further ones to read is thrilling to me. Finally I won't have to just take a shot with any book I find but will have (more or less) a guaranteed good book for a little while longer. So I tend to dive into series and devour all the author has written.

message 6: by Doina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Doina | 18 comments I agree! I always appreciate a good book, whether it is stand alone or a series. But I especially enjoy picking up a book, really like it, and then discover that it is part of a series. I love the character development, and the twists and turns of the plot. I think that Jessica summed it up pretty well. : )

message 7: by Lawriter (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Lawriter | 13 comments I usually like series, because you can get involved more in the characters, like Shane Scully's wife Alexa getting shot in the head in White Sister.

In Three Shirt Deal, she's trying to recover, but their marriage is falling apart and Shane is attracted to another detective:

message 8: by Judub (new)

Judub | 12 comments Love both, as long as they are good.

message 9: by Spuddie (new)

Spuddie | 37 comments I also tend to gravitate towards series, I think because I am big on "characters." I don't have anything against a good stand-alone, but if I meet a character I like, I want to go back and revisit them. But I can't read series one after another in order, or I tend to get bored with them, regardless of how much I like them. I like to leave the space of a month or two between series reads.


message 10: by John (new)

John I'm going to (once again) bring up the Jane Lawless series by Ellen Hart as it's a hybrid of both - Jane, her family, and best friend Cordelia are "constants", but the supporting characters (and often location, too) are "variables"; the latest one has a carried-over sub-plot from the previous couple of books, but those are rare.

message 11: by Rob (new)

Rob McMonigal I think the genre is really skewed towards series characters, thanks to Doyle, Christie, Chandler, and the rest of the early writers setting up series characters. Therefore, we all tend to gravitate to them.

My only problem with a series is that I can never believe the character will die. Other than that, I love them.

message 12: by Lillian (new)

Lillian | 26 comments I read both series and stand a lones if they are both good.

message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy (ldtchr) | 11 comments I like them both, but tend to gravitate toward series. It's like visiting old friends . . . .

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been known to read the 15th book in a series, and like it so much that I went back and read the other 14 in order, and all subsequent ones. What would I do without my Harry Bosch?
Or Kinsey Millhone?

When a new book in a series in which I'm invested comes out, I will always grab it first. BUT, that's like saying you'll only see movies with one particular actor, so of course I read stand-alone books!

message 15: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 2 comments I definitely prefer series. . what's everyone's favorite? I could use some good suggestions.

message 16: by Lara (new)

Lara (moony85) | 1 comments I'm all for series even if I read standalones too standalone...the problem with them most of all if they are good is that when the book is finished I'm so sad 'cause I want more...

Alex Cross & Kay Scarpetta series are still my can't forget your first love... but recently I read "Shadow Man" by Cody Mcfadyen and I loved it...the following book is "The Face of Death" that I still have to read

message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie | 9 comments Finding a new (at least to me!) series is really a thrill. I've only recently started reading Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series and Amazon can't deliver them fast enough. A series is so hard to maintain, though, and it is a great disappointment to get 4-5 books into a series and find it lacking. I second the praises of Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know--it kept me guessing until the end. I also most enjoy her Baltimore detective series.

message 18: by Becca (new)

Becca (becca2) | 19 comments I tend to read series, but in the case of Harlan Coben, I only read his standalone mysteries instead of his series.

message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (andreag) | 15 comments I like series, but some of them go on too long. It must be hard to maintain the flavor of the series and have the characters change, but not too much. And some of the situations end up being a bit forced - how many dead bodies to caterers or flower shop owners really run into?

Even on really good mystery series, I sometime run out of steam. Brother Cadfael - I've read through about book #10 and just haven't been compelled to read the rest. I probably will eventually, but it's been a long break so far.

What about order? Most series I try to start at the begining or as near the beginning as I can find a title. And generally read in sequence. Some series are episodic enough that the characters don't change much and there isn't much of a plot thread running through the books (Poirot, Cadfael). Other series you feel like your missing something if you skip a book. What do other folks do - read in order or skip around?

message 20: by Chester (new)

Chester | 17 comments I like both, but I'm partial to the series since that's what I write. When you get familiar with the characters, it's like visiting old friends. You want to find out what they're up to now.

As for reading them in order, you get a better picture of the characters, but I suspect most authors do as I do and try to make each book read like a standalone. You add enough backstory so the characters come alive but try to build on what has transpired in earlier books.

My fourth is just out and I guess I'll stay with the series as long as readers like them.

message 21: by Denise (new)

Denise (niser) | 26 comments I also enjoy a series over a stand alone because I enjoy the character development and relationships with each other and the case.

message 22: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 4 comments I much prefer a series to stand alone. When finishing a stand alone, I'm often left feeling some of the minor characters deserve to have their story told as well.

The problem with enjoying a series so much is the sadness of it ending too soon. As with, Anne George's, Southern Sisters series or Karen Kijewski's, Kat Colorado series.

message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim Having just read my first Alex Delaware, number 20 something in the series, I am seeing some issues with the series format.

A lot of the plot lines from prior books seem to have been forced into the current one whether they fit or not, notably the love lives of the two Delaware and Milo. While this may entertain the fans who support the franchise, for the newcomers this just feels like a distraction. Frankly even in the Spenser series where I have read several books, I feel as is Susan and Hawk are given their turns whether they are needed to advance the story or not.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I read both. I find quit often I'll come across a book that sounds great and sure enough it's smack dab in the middle of a series, so I'll have to buy and read all the other books first. Drives me crazy.

What do you all think of starting a book in the middle of the series? Do you care or do you have to start at the 1st book?

message 25: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 19 comments I love both as long as they are good! BUT that said, I will tolerate a bad book in a series if I love the characters and others in the series

message 26: by Magpie67 (new)

Magpie67 | 28 comments I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Kellerman and his series with Alex Delaware and Milo.

Love them!!!

I love series books, because it's comfortable to fall into characters whom you have know for a while. I love stand alones too!! I just love a superb mystery no matter the style.

I am now actually reading Jonathan's wife's series with Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. Completely into this series as well. I tend to find the series books without even trying sometimes, but I have come across a few stand alones that have just rocked my reading world. Crystal's comment above.....Ditto! Have to read at the beginning. Anal about that matter. :-)

message 27: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 19 comments I don't mind starting series in the middle. Each story is complete in itself. Yes I may miss out on a bit of character development or history, but overall as long as it is enjoyable, I don't mind at all, but I know it can drive others nuts. LOL

message 28: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 21 comments I agree - I will also tolerate a less-than-stellar entry in a favorite series, just to visit with the characters again. A good example for me is the Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker series by Faye Kellerman. Some books in the series are better than others, but I'm there for each one. I agree with the praise for Laura Lippman, whether series or stand- alone. Linda Barnes, Margaret Maron, and Julie Smith are all solid series authors. I enjoy Walter Mosely's Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones series books much more than his stand-alone books. I fell in love with Carol O'Connell's Mallory books from the first - Mallory's Oracle - and I would strongly recommend reading those in order. My newest favorite is the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. That series has me holding my breath between books,

message 29: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (andreag) | 15 comments I try to start at the beginning of the series whenever possible. With some long running series it can be hard to acquire the first couple books. I don't mind as much if I have to skip a couple in the middle and come back to them later.

Some series just make more sense if you read the first book - the Aunt Dimity series. And the character and relationship development, to me, is more enjoyable if you don't jump ahead.

message 30: by Leah (new)

Leah | 2 comments I much prefer a series vs. stand alone, although it used to be the other way around for me. Now when I read a stand alone mystery I feel a bit sad especially if I liked the characters. Tess Gerristen used to write stand alones but now has moved onto writing a series and I realized through that, that I much prefer a series.

Two of my favorites series from the Mystery Genre are: The Sister Joan Mysteries by Veronica Black, and The Sister Fidelma Mysteries by Peter Tremayne.

message 31: by Sfdreams (new)

Sfdreams | 12 comments I guess I'm with the majority as I MUCH prefer a series to a stand-alone. Not that I don't read a stand-alone, but as many have already commented, I am sad at the end, as I want to read more! I love seeing characters develop, so I mostly read the cozy type of mystery.

I am one of those compulsive types that will ONLY read a series in order! (Well, I have made a rare exception or two out of impatience, but have usually regretted it if it was a good series.)

I am finding more and more good series all the time and would be hard pressed to name my favorite. I love JA Jance's Joanna Brady mysteries (I like her Beaumont mysteries, too, but not as well.) I've also love Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles mysteries(a Goodreads author!). My two newest favorites are Karen MacInerney and JB Stanley (another Goodreads author!) I also really like the Maxie McNab series by Sue Henry. I can just see myself travelling around the country in an RV!

There are too many more that I like, and I have trouble remembering them all!! Thank goodness for the author alert function at the library--I am automatically reserved a copy of the newest books!

message 32: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) I like series much better than stand-alones. It gives me a chance to get into the various characters. It also gives me something to look forward to when the next one comes out. I feel, after a while, that I know the various regular characters as if they were a member of my family. Stand-alone books don't give you anything to look forward to. There is no character development. It is totally impersonal. Series are very personal.

message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim Is this really a choice anymore? With the exception of Elmore Leonard and Richard Price, who writes crime fiction except as a series?

Contrary to what has been said above, I think that the free standing novel is much more likely to let the detective's character develop than the series where he is often going through the same old tricks.

The advantage of the series is the advantage of re-reading an old poem. Everything that you enjoyed the first time is there to enjoy again, and on a second reading you often find more to like. One way to accomplish this is to simply re-read old books, but this is less frequent with detective stories since one of the pleasures, guessing who dunnit, disappears on re-reading if you still remember the original story.

Of course, a series doesn't have to be just a rote exercise. I am reading my first Ian Rankin The Falls and finding a lot of character development even though plot lines from past novels affect the characters in this novel. Like most things, series can be generated skillfully or awkwardly.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I just finished reading Karin Slaughter's Triptych which is a stand alone mystery and it was a fabulous read. I'd forgotten how satisfying it is for everything to be resolved in one book - nothing left over until next time, no unnecessarily drawn out plot devices. I've got my favourite series too but I'm going to look for more of these great stand alones.

message 35: by Mysterious (new)

Mysterious | 16 comments I already have Cody McFadyen's 3rd book on my wishlist. Love them.

I liked all the earlier Kay Scarpetta and have also followed Patterson's Alex Cross series since the beginning.

message 36: by Mysterious (last edited May 14, 2008 05:19AM) (new)

Mysterious | 16 comments I like series but have to read them in order but read both really.
It is like knowing characters for years vs just a week or while they quickly solve a crime and become involved in a serious relationship. :P (or however long the story line in the stand alone takes you)

message 37: by Vickie (new)

Vickie (iyamvixen) | 30 comments Favorite series:
Myron Bolitar - Harlan Coben
Temperence Brennan - Kathy Reichs
Jack Daniels - J A Konrath
Beverly Connors has two I dig
Grant County - Karin Slaughter
Nevada Barr's series
Inspector Lynley - Elizabeth George
Inspector Richard Jury - Martha Grimes
Keith Ablow's series

lordy, there are so many that I dig!

message 38: by Magpie67 (new)

Magpie67 | 28 comments I'm with Vickie so many I dig!

Stuart Woods-Stone Barrington
Karin Slaughter - Grant County
Kathy Reichs - Tempe
Nancy Martin - Blackbird Sisters
Donna Andrews - Meg Langslow
John Sandford - Prey series
Jonathan Kellerman - Alex Deleware
James Patterson - Alex Cross and The Women's Murder Club
Fern Michaels - The Viligante group of women
Alex Kava - Maggie O'Dell
David Baldacci - FBI series
Linda Fairstein - Alex Cooper
Keith Ablow's series
Janet Evanovich's series

I have more but no more time to list them. I love series!!! But I love a good stand alone too!

message 39: by Terry (new)

Terry Ray | 3 comments Totally love:

Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar
John Sandford's Kidd (Please write some new ones!)
Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie
Stuart Woods' Stone Barrington (when I need a no-brainer)

I've found that in a series usually either the second or third book is my favorite (example Coben's Fade Away and Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand). I think this is because you really get to know the characters emotionally by that point and the writer usually finds a way to bring their deepest issues into the story.

For that reason, I like a series better than a stand-alone.

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