The last few months have not been kind to my ability to blog. Between wrist tendonitis and cataract surgery on both eyes, I haven’t been able to do much on the computer. But now my wrist is settling down and my eyes are staring to clear. I had intended to start back slowly but I seem to have posted quite a bit this past week.
During my absence from the computer, I have been able to read. My big accomplishment: reading the entire Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series by Anne Perry. I had read a number of them before but realized that I had skipped most of the ones in the middle. There are 26. Thomas Pitt begins as a detective with what became the Metropolitan Police in late 19th century London. He is the son of a gamekeeper who was educated with the master’s son – a key to his rise. Charlotte is the middle daughter of an upper class, but not aristocratic family. Their marriage is gradually accepted by her family. (I have to say that I never quite understood why she never had even a small dowry, but I may have missed the explanation.) Her sister, Emily, marries up to the aristocracy and then when her husband dies, a man who gets elected to Parliament. Emily’s great aunt from her first marriage plays a major role in most of the books. I’m sure you have guessed by now that these are mystery novels. The genius of Anne Perry is her ability to capture the time while often centering her stories around issues that are still current like rape and political corruption.
Having finished up with Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, I began thinking of the other series I’ve followed over the years beginning with the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout and Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey series and moving on to the Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott, Victoria Thompson’s Sarah Brandt and, of course, J.D. Robb and the “in death” books. What happens to me is that the characters become familiar friends. One gets involved in their lives and is sad when they go away because the author dies or simply, like Sayers, decides not to write any more. One watches children grow up and wonders how the relationship between Deborah and her stepson, Cal will evolve. Will Eve Dallas ever have children? How will Sarah’s relationship with Malloy impact his mother? And people follow different writers and characters. But some series get read primarily for the mystery. I read all of P.D. James, but not necessarily because I wanted to know what would happen next to Adam Dalgliesh although his development has been fun to follow and it is interesting that James has written the best follow-up to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”: “Death Comes to Pemberly”,
So the question becomes whether or not to read anything by an author, authorized or not, who picks up the series. I’ve never read any of the “new” Nero Wolfe’s or the continuation of Robert Parker’s Spencer series, but I have read all three of Jill Patton Walsh’s Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane add-on’s. I had just finished writing that sentence and stopped to think more about where this was going when Margaret Maron herself posted on Facebook.
I think that several no-longer-with-us writers have had their series continued by others with decent success — Sherlock Holmes and Jill Paton Walsh’s entries in Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey saga come to mind. But rather than write more Peter-Harriet stories, I really wish that she or someone competent would use the Wimsey sons. If you recall, there were 3 of them. Surely at least one of them inherited his parents’ detecting bug?
What series would you love to see done if you could be sure they’d be done well?