Okay, one of these may not be fair to call a “series breakup,” because I read one and I won’t go back for more. But still: here are some highly disappointing series novels of the past few months.
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith and City of Dreadful Night by Peter Guttridge. It’s true, I read both of these for location more than anything else. Alexander McCall Smith remains charming, but I’ve long given up on many of his series, finding them increasingly repetitive; I keep with the Isabel Dalhousie books purely because I enjoy return visits to Edinburgh, but their plotting gets sillier and sillier. I’d picked up the Guttridge because a trilogy set in Brighton appealed, but found the book way too mired in conspiracy theories and generations-long police scheming.
A Question of Identity by Susan Hill. This is a series I will be very sad to take off the roster, but that may be the inevitable outcome. The first few books in the Simon Serrailler series were dark and strange, grappling with the moral dilemmas of police work. One of them was possibly the first crime novel I’d read where the major crime remains unsolved at the end. (I went as far as to task a coworker traveling to the UK with picking up book 3 for me when I realized how long I’d have to wait to get it here!) But the books are getting more and more conventional as they go, and losing focus on what made the character interesting: the different and often opposing aspects of their parallel lives. This one is pretty much all about bratty children and a crime that I, at least, had solved halfway through the book (as was true with the last). If I can’t any longer enjoy the characters or the plotting, not sure what I’d read them for.
The Sleeping and the Dead by Jeff Crook. I found this an incoherent mess. There’s a germ of an intriguingly spooky, lightly paranormal idea—a crime-scene photographer whose camera captures the dead—but then she also sees ghosts without the camera, and manages to purchase said camera from a crime victim/suspect, and gets deeply embroiled with a serial killer, and all of these things turn out to be connected and involve ghosts…and then carnage at the end kills off pretty much all of the secondary characters. No way to build a narrative, or certainly a series.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the trenches with Marcia Muller‘s heroine Sharon McCone, and I still enjoy the character. But the plots get thinner and thinner in this series, and the action set pieces get more and more dramatic while less and less related to the ostensible plots. This one goes nowhere for almost the entire book; the major action points actually derive from an entirely different and mostly irrelevant subplot. Thin, very thin.
And last, and probably least: Cage of Bones by Tania Carver. I said after reading book two of this series, The Creeper, that I was only giving Carver one more chance to break out of insisting on overlapping her pool of victim and perpetrators with her detective squad. Well, this book fails that test miserably; the lead series investigator is directly connected to the victim pool, and senior officers are revealed to be seriously incompetent criminal masterminds. I’m amazed anyone on that force still has a job and/or is alive, and I definitely won’t go back.