What IS it about book series?

 I have always enjoyed series – detective stories where each book is stand-alone but the detective meets his girl, courts her, marries her, children arrive….. Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories were among the earliest I read. By the way, Jill Paton-Walsh has picked up on Wimsey’s first case and written The Attenbury Emeralds. Bunter is still with them and so are two children.

One modern series I was enjoying, was Faye Kellerman’s Peter Decker books, starting with The Ritual Bath. (She is the wife of the better-known Jonathan Kellerman and their son Jesse has also started producing thrillers.) I bought her latest, Blood Games recently and, if I hadn’t already put my name in it, I would have taken it back. I still enjoy the Decker family and like the characters and the suspense is gripping but there seems to be more violence and more explicit sex in each book.

 A similar thing happened with the Harry Potter books and the Training Your Dragon series. Not the explicit sex but the violence and sense of darkness increased as the series progressed.

 I’ve been given V is for Vengeance, the latest in Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. She wrote A is for Alibi years ago as an alternative to killing her ex-husband. The special joy of these has been that my husband and my brother also enjoy reading them so we get double or triple value. I do hope I don’t end up feeling the same about V when I find time to read it! Her protagonist in the feisty P I, Kinsey Millhone – the (fictional) model for Joanne Hichen’s local P I  in Divine Justice, published recently.

 After Blood Games, it was a relief to pick up the lovey-dovey Wedding Season by Katie FForde – passed on to me by my lovely daughter. Rather mushier than I normally read but a relief. A wedding planner is the central character and we are obviously going to follow her into romance. There is also the hairdresser/make-up artist, who is living with a chauvinist boy-friend and the dressmaker, who is roped in to replace a missing bridesmaid. And what will happen with the bride and her family?

 I’ve also started a charming memoir The Reading Promise: 3218 Nights of Reading with my Father by Alice Ozma. The reading she and her father did together acts as a thread through her life. Her father is a Library Teacher, seemingly the kind we all wish we had – though he wasn’t too good as a husband. She gives us delightful vignettes of their time spent together – such as the time spent on their porch admiring the resident spiders and admiring the coming storm. He had taught her to love storms but …

“I would have loved spiders on my own” I insisted.

I just would have, because of their colours and their eyes and their gift-wrapping technique and their dazzling webs. And their legs, like my sister’s”.

Jenny Strickland