Many readers crave a good series because we become attached to the characters and love the way favorite authors put together a plot. Although there are many different genres of book series, the most popular are mysteries and crime stories – everything from cozy to dark.
Ann Cleeves is one author featured this week because she has a new series in progress. Before looking at that one, though, let’s think about her two highly successful series that are now complete. One is the Vera series and the other is the Shetland series. Both have been made into television series of excellent quality. We can find those streaming on channels such as Acorn and Netflix.
Cleeves is at the darker end of police mysteries. Vera, for example, is a frumpy somewhat past middle aged police captain in northern England with a dim view of humanity that includes the possibility of ordinary people behaving badly. She is a loner in her personal life and her work life for that matter. She’s bossy and not above a temper tantrum. Like many of the best fictional detectives, she’s a flawed character that we come to love.
So, if you’re interested in Cleeves, Vera is a great place to start. Her nine books in that series work well on paper, audio, and the screen. Book one is The Crow Trap. Just within the last week or so, season 11 of Vera has been released for streaming.
Her newest series is the Matthew Venn series, another north country police detective, in many ways Vera’s opposite. He is self-contained and controlled. He was raised in a highly conservative small religious community that threw him out for being gay. The Heron’s Cry and the hot off the presses The Long Call are the two books so far in this series. We can get in on the ground floor. I’m caught up now. This series is also now in TV production.
The second featured author this week is Richard Osman. His two-book series (so far) starts with The Thursday Murder Club and the new book, The Man Who Died Twice.
Louise Penny and Kate Atkinson have given this series their approval. Steven Spielberg is producing the movie of the second book. The tone of this series is closer to Penny’s Three Pines/Inspector Gamache series than any other comparison I can think of. It is seriously good plotting with an interesting mix of light and dark. It also has a core of characters that we hope will survive for many more books. The first book was good; the second one is very good. You might want to read it before Spielberg’s movie is released so you aren’t automatically thinking of the actors Spielberg chose as you are reading.
Our four central characters live in an upper crust retirement community, all in their 70’s. They all have interesting backgrounds. One, for example, is a retired MI5 undercover operative. When a real murder finds its way into their community in the first book, our Murder Club characters go from solving closed cases to involving themselves in current murders. Our retired spy character finds herself front and center in the second book.
Like Penny’s books, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, but the murder mystery part is a complex plot in both books. I’m now current with this series also, sad to say.
You can, naturally, get all these books through our library. Have fun with your new fictional friends.
See you at the Library!
By Roz Weedman, Published in the Frankenmuth News Oct. 6, 2021