Friday Special – Mystery Series: Reading, Catching Up, Maybe Finishing?


example: Craig Johnson’s Longmire series

This isn’t exactly about forgotten books, though many listed are forgotten or seldom read. Instead it’s about intentions, and you know what they say about the best of intentions. Still…

It’s a common topic. You see it, hear it, all the time. “I just finished the latest in the __ series.” or “I tried one of the books in the __ series.” or “I really want to try that __ series.

We all do it, because there are a lot of authors writing a lot of books in series, and there have been for quite a while. I have my favorites, so do you. When I say series I’m talking about, in this post, books in a mystery series, though it could be a science fiction or fantasy series. But I’m going to limit these thoughts to mystery fiction.

So, take a moment to think. If you buy and keep books, I’ll bet you have a lot of series books on your shelves. If you get books from the library, I’ll bet you’ve read a lot of books in a series. We all have favorites authors, and likely they write a series that’s also a favorite.

Good so far, but what’s the point? It’s that though I have a lot of favorite mystery authors and series, I can’t say I’ve read all the books in the series. Let me name some I’d like to get caught up on. (alphabetical by author) and don’t be surprised that I haven’t read all these. I read a lot of other things too, including science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction and other mystery stuff. So, series I’d like to read, or read more of, or finish up:

author                                                series

  • Catherine Aird                  Inspector C.D. Sloan
  • Bruce Alexander               Sir John Fielding
  • Margery Allingham         Campion
  • Leo Bruce                           Carolus Deane
  • W.J. Burley                        Chief Superintendent Wycliff
  • Leslie Charteris                The Saint
  • Robert Crais                      Elvis Cole
  • Bill Crider                          Sheriff Rhodes
  • Amanda Cross                   Kate Fansler
  • Erle Stanley Gardner       Perry Mason
  • Colin Dexter                      Inspector Morse (2 to go)
  • Aaron Elkins                     Gideon Oliver (reading Skeleton Dance now) 
  • Christopher Fowler        Bryant & May
  • Sue Grafton                       Kinsey Millhone (I’m at “N”)
  • Robert van Gulik              Judge Dee
  • Brett Halliday                   Mike Shayne
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Bill Slider
  • John Harvey                     Charlie Resnick
  • William Kent Krueger   Cork O’Connor (2 to go)
  • Laura Lippman                Tess Monaghan
  • Ross Macdonald              Lew Archer (yes, I still have a few to read)
  • Edward Marston             Domesday (I’ve read 4)
  • Patricia Moyes                 Chief Superintendent Henri Tibbett (I’m close on this one)
  • Ellis Peters                       Brother Cadfael (I’ve “saved” 2)
  • Richard Prather              Shell Scott (I’ve read 8 or 9, maybe a few more)
  • Bill Pronzini                     Nameless
  • Peter Robinson               Inspector Banks
  • S.J. Rozan                         Bill Smith/Lydia Chin (read just 1 so far)
  • Craig Russell                   Longmire
  • Georges Simenon          Maigret
  • Veronica Stallwood       Kate Ivory
  • Rex Stout                          Nero Wolfe (I think I’ve read them all, but not sure)
  • Ross Thomas                   Padillo & McCorkle
  • Arthur W. Upfield          Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte

I know there are more, those are just many that are sitting on the shelves, waiting. Of course I find out about new-to-me series all the time. Will I ever get caught up? I doubt it. Will I enjoy trying? Yes.

So how about you? Have you read any of these? All of them? Are you all caught up on the mystery series you like? Are there others you’d like to try?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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40 Responses to Friday Special – Mystery Series: Reading, Catching Up, Maybe Finishing?

  1. tracybham says:

    I have read all the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe series (more than once), all of the Margery Allinghams, and all of the S.J. Rozan series. but there are plenty of series, some of them listed here, that I never started or did not get far with. I will have to look at my shelves (or my catalog system).

  2. I am reading an Aird Sloan right now and have a Pronzini Nameless on the horizon for next month. I love a lot of these series and do have pretty much all the Simenon and Campion books for instance. Great post Richard.

    • Thanks, Sergio, I thought it was about time I did a post like this, for myself and anyone else who might find it interesting. Not many people are reading Aird these days, so she’s an example of forgotten, I think.

      In the face of so much dark “gritty” mystery fiction these days, I’ve been gravitating to the more classic British stuff like the Sloan books.

  3. From your list, I’ve read all of The Saint, Shell Scott, Lew Archer, and Nero Wolfe. Probably 3/4 of the Mike Shaynes. I think I’ve read all the books by Dresser, but there are still some of the later ones by Robert Terrall I’ve never gotten around to. I’ve read all the Charlie Chan novels by Biggers, all the Ed Noons by Avallone (except the unpublished ones, and when they come out, I’ll read them, too), all the Mike Hammers by Spillane (I’m behind on the ones finished by Collins), all the Continental Op and Sam Spade stories by Hammett, everything by Chandler . . . There are bound to be a lot more I’m not thinking of. They’re all older series, though. I doubt if I’m caught up on any current series.

    • James, I didn’t list series I’m current or finished with, such as Hammett, Chandler, Penny. I have a couple of the Bigger Chan books to go, one of the series that I enjoy and have been slowly going through to savor them, and a non-Chan Biggers just came in the mail yesterday. I have a lot of Shayne’s, but haven’t read that many yet as I always seem to have something else pop up. Hopefully this post will get a lot of people reminded and reading some of the older series.

  4. Jerry House says:

    Currently reading a Longmire which will have me caught up to this month’s new release. I’ve read all the Christies, Queens, Carrs, Nero Wolfes, Chandlers, Allinghams, MacDonalds (both Ross and John D.), Hammetts, etc. Missing a few Maigrets, E. S. Gardners, the latest Pronzinis, and Criders and Gormans and Max Allan Collins. Sadly behind in James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, Mickey Spillane, Grafton (like you, stuck on N), and so many others. In Sf, I’m well behind in Asimov, Clarke, Pohl, and Brackett, among others. Closing in on John Wyndham, C. M. Kornbluth, Fritz Leiber, Avram Davidson, and Murray Leinster. So many authors, so little time. **sigh**

    • Jerry, I didn’t even try at SF or fantasy, but I’ve read all of the big 3, and most all of the other classic authors. As for mystery, I’m only a few shy on Christie, but I wasn’t keeping track of them when I was reading them, so I’ll end up rereading many as I go. Good thing I don’t remember most of them, so reading them again will be like the first time! I gave up on some series, Queen is an example, the endings seemed to complicated, with multiple endings. I didn’t think to put in Burke, and I should have. I have only read about two-thirds of his.

  5. Like you, I’m way behind on reading all the series books you list. Retirement starts on December 30, 2016 so maybe I can start getting caught up in 2017.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Nice list! I’m not caught up on some series, but some I am. These are currently-writing authors with ongoing series, where I am up to date:

    Bill Pronzini, Nameless
    Marcia Muller, Sharon McCone
    Lee Child, Jack Reacher
    Archer Mayor, Joe Gunther
    Bill Crider, Sheriff Dan Rhodes
    Michael Connelly, Harry Bosch
    Margaret Maron, Deborah Knott
    Steven F. Havill, Bill Gastner/Estelle Reyes-Guzman
    Lawrence Block, Keller & Bernie Rhodenbarr
    Max Allan Collins, Quarry
    Peter Robinson, Alan Banks
    Ken Bruen, Jack Taylor
    Andrea Camilleri, Insp. Salvo Montalbano
    Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire
    Colin Cotterill, Dr. Siri Paiboun
    Gerry Boyle, Jack McMorrow
    P. J. Tracy, Monkeewrench/Magozzi & Rolseth
    Jeffrey Siger, Andreas Kaldis
    Adrian McKinty, Sean Duffy

    There are probably others I am forgetting, or which are too new to include.

  7. Jeff Meyerson says:

    On your list, I am caught up with Charlie Resnick – but is Harvey done with him?

    I have 4-5 BIll Slider books on the shelf waiting to be read and think there is at least one newer one I don’t have yet.

    I tried to go back and read several series I used to read but had a hard time getting into the next book – Aird’s C. D. Sloan was one example, Emma Lathen’s John Putnam Thatcher was another, and the Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins was a third. I think I have all of the Bony books by Upfield on the shelf, but I’ve only read a handful of those so far.

    What series do I want to read/finish?

    Jo Nesbo, Harry Hole (also several other Scandinavian series)
    Reginald Hill, Dalziel & Pascoe (read about half)
    Ian Rankin, Rebus
    Donald Hamilton, Matt Helm (I think I have the unread ones)
    Ross Macdonald, Lew Archer
    Kate Ellis, Wesley Peterson
    Joe Lansdale, Hap & Leonard
    Brian Freemantle, Charlie Muffin
    G. M. Ford, Leo Waterman (I have the newest one)

    • I think Harvey is done with Resnick now. I think that last, somewhat recent one was it. Not surprisingly, your comment includes other series I’d either forgotten about or missed listing, but it wasn’t intended to be inclusive. I’m not familiar with Freemantle, for instance. But these days, every time I pick up a book, it’s one of a series that I’m automatically behind on. Plus there are series being carried on by new authors that I’ve not (and probably won’t) visit, such as Bond, Spencer, etc.

      • Jeff Meyerson says:

        Charlie Muffin is kind of a scruffy, down at heels looking spy that the snooty British establishment people are always trying to get rid of by setting him up to be killed by another power or trading him to the Russians, but he is so much smarter than them that he always comes out ahead, or at least alive.

  8. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Other finished (i.e. the author is dead) series I have finished:

    Christie, all series
    Simenon, Maigret
    McBain, 87th Precinct, Matthew Hope
    Westlake/Stark, Parker (but need to finish the Dortmunders)
    Stuart Kaminsky, all series by Toby Peters – Rostnikov, Lieberman, Fonesca
    Mortimer, Rumpole
    Sayers, Wimsey
    Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee
    Philip R. Craig, J. W. Jackson
    Joseph Hansen, Dave Brandstetter
    Freeling, Van der Valk
    Gores, DKA File
    Jill McGown, Lloyd & Hill
    Conan Doyle, Holmes
    Arthur Lyons, Asch
    Sjowall & Wahloo, Martin Beck

  9. Jeff Meyerson says:

    ‘but’ Toby Peters, not ‘by’ – one was enough for me

  10. Good thing you didn’t include SF and fantasy series! I’m way behind on those, too!

  11. Deb says:

    In my teens and twenties, I was very OCD about reading all of an author’s work (regardless of if the books were in a series or not). The problem was, by reading this way, I tended to burn out on a writer after several books, whereas if I had read a few here and there, I would have enjoyed the writer much more. The only series I keep up with now are Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s Bill Slider, and Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie. Before their deaths, I kept up with P.D. James’s Dalgleish and Ruth Rendell’s Wexford. Other series I dip into as fancy takes me, but I don’t try to keep up with any others.

    • That’s why I usually don’t read more than two by an author at a time. I don’t want to get burned out. I do think you’re missing out if you’re not reading William Kent Krueger and Louise Penny.

    • Jeff Meyerson says:

      I really need to catch up on Lovesey’s Diamond series (I’ve read a few). I liked his early, historical books better, to be honest. Sgt. Cribb, Bertie the Prince of Wales, KEYSTONE, THE FALSE INSPECTOR DEW. And his short stories are good too.

  12. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    There are certain series I keep up with and have read all so far. I have read everything by Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Peter Robinson, Peter Lovesey, Stephen Greenleaf, Arthur Lyons, Ace Atkins, Sjowall & Wahloo, Jo Nesbo, Ross MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, Joe Lansdale, GM Ford, Earl Emerson. There are more that don’t come to mind at the moment.

    • Seems we all get into reading various series, but they’re so common anymore.

      I just finished a book. Now to decide what to read next. One of these series? Something on the top of TBR area? One that checks both boxes? Something else that makes me think “Oooh, shiny…”? Heck, I don’t even know what genre to pick.

  13. Denny Lien says:

    From your list, I’ve read all (I think) of the sereses (seresi?) by Aird, Allingham, Chareris, Dexter, Fowler (except for the most recent, which I’ll get to when available here), van Gulik (twice), Ellis Peters, Stout, and Upfield. But there are several names on the list by which I’ve so far read nothing.

    It might be interesting (but perhaps cruel) to compile a list of “series books one has given up on,” especially if one restricted it to cases where you’d read, say, four or five before deciding life was too short. At the risk of shocking Edward Marston fans, one such that comes to mind in my case is his Nicholar Bracebridge Elizabethan theater mysteries. I like theatrical mystery settings and I was an Elizabethan drama major in grad school, so I really wanted to like these more than I did — and I did for a while, until I realized that no character and no character trait and no relationship between two characters was even going to change from book to book. Hardly the only series of which that comment could be made, of course, but somehow the setting in a period as exciting and expansive as the English renaissance just made the stasis more noticable. (I tried a couple of volumes from other Marston serieses and afraid was not impressed enough to go on with them either.)

    Denny Lien

    • Denny, welcome and I hope you drop in often. Series is, perhaps, one of those words which can be used as both singular and plural. You’ve read many of the series I have, and if you’ve read all of The Saint books, you’ve read a lot, there are a lot of them.

      I know what you mean about quitting a series, after several or even one book. I read one or two of those Marston books, and though I liked them well enough, it wasn’t enough to keep me reading. The Domesday books I like better, and his Railway Detective books I like quite a bit.

      I’m not sure I could identify many series I gave up on, as I probably just stopped, without consciously “giving up” so much as just didn’t get around to going on. I guess picking some of these up, based on this post and the reminder it makes, might reveal that. Good comment.

      • Jeff Meyerson says:

        Series/authors I’ve given up on:

        Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker, Patricia Cornwell, Laurie R. King, Janet Evanovich (except the books with Lee Goldberg).

        Chacun a son gout.

  14. Thanks for a great post. There are so many good series going right now, let alone huge lists from authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Georges Simenon. Currently, I am enjoying Steve Ulfelder’s Conway Sax series.

  15. fence says:

    I haven’t read any of those 😦 but I recognise loads of them as authors/series I want to get to at some point 🙂
    I really enjoy the Fred Vargas’ mysteries but I haven’t found myself reading a lot of them recently. This time of year does suit them though, so maybe I’ll manage to start one soon.

  16. Richard, I read all of Erle Stanley Gardner’s “Perry Mason” series before I settled down, which means I haven’t read any other series in its entirety. There are quite a few authors here that I’d like to read, especially Bill Pronzini, Bill Crider, Robert Crais, Ross Macdonald, Richard Prather, Georges Simenon, and Rex Stout. Frankly, I don’t see myself reading an entire series, maybe two or three novels by each, as I do with most writers. But your list goes into my pocket, Richard.

    • I don’t see myself reading an entire series straight through, never have done. But on series I’ve liked and read some of, I think I’d like to keep reading these, as long as they continue to entertain me, one here and another later on, between other books listed and in other genres.

  17. From your list, Richard, I’ve read all the Elvis Cole books by Robert Crais, all the Sir John Fielding books by Bruce Alexander (though I may have missed the last one before the author’s death, all the Gideon Oliver books (except for, I think, the absolute latest one) by Aaron Elkins, all the Bryant and May books by Christopher Fowler (love them all except for the last one), all the Lew Archer books by Ross MacDonald (though I don’t remember them and am probably due for a reread), most of the Henry Tibbetts books by Patricia Moyes, most of the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin books by S.J. Rozan and all of the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. I know I read all the Perry Mason books when I was a teenager, but I have no memory of them and no plans to reread.

    A few other series I’ve read and recommend (just to drive you crazy):
    The Inspector Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. (The early books should be read in order.)
    The Jack Reacher books by Lee Child
    The Richard Jury books by Martha Grimes
    The Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King
    The Inspector Roderick Alleyn series by Ngaio Marsh
    The Stanley Hastings books by Parnell Hall
    The John Appleby series by Michael Innes
    The William Monk series by Anne Perry
    The Jane Whitefield books by Thomas Perry (no relation to Anne – which is a pseudonym anyway)

    I omitted Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple because I’m assuming everyone has read those.

    I’m an old lady and I’ve been reading for a very long time. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

    • Yvette, thanks for the comment and especially the list. Of your additions, I’ve read

      first few The Inspector Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
      No Jack Reacher books by Lee Child
      The first 8 or 9 Richard Jury books by Martha Grimes before I tired of them
      All but the latest 3 Holmes and Russell books by Laurie R. King
      One Inspector Roderick Alleyn series by Ngaio Marsh, didn’t like the writing.
      One Stanley Hastings books by Parnell Hall, ditto on the writing
      Two Appleby series by Michael Innes, just not into spy stuff.
      None of the William Monk series by Anne Perry
      None of the Jane Whitefield books by Thomas Perry

      I’m not sure I’ll ever get through all these series, what with so many other books in mystery genre and SF and fantasy.

  18. Pingback: Current Reading: Cay Van Ash, Candice Fox | Tip the Wink

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