Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for January include: (1/5) Jennifer J. Chow, (1/12) Amy Pershing, (1/19) Heather Weidner, (1/26) Marilyn Levinson.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Why We Love Series by Marilyn Levinson

I love writing mystery series. I enjoy focusing each book around a sleuth who develops and grows with each escapade, a large supporting cast of characters, and a familiar setting. Mystery readers love series, too. In fact, I've felt a stab of guilt each time a reader asked why I hadn't continued a series I'd begun a few years ago, a series I hope to return to when I have more time. ("More time" requires the attention of another blog.)

I know the appeal of series as a reader. Ever since the pandemic began, I've been listening to Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries. I'd read three or four some years ago, and decided that now would be a good time to listen to the rest in order. Maisie is an appealing protagonist, as her millions of fans will attest. We are familiar with her humble beginnings, her education and experiences as a nurse, a psychologist and an investigator from World War One to World War Two.

Characters in a series often loom larger than life. Who isn't familiar with Dame Agatha's Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot? In fact, Poirot's obituary appeared in The New York Times.
Then there's Elizabeth Peter's marvelous Amelia Peabody series. I love the way Amelia's family grows with each book.

Superman, Batman, and Spiderman--to name a few—are often viewed as our nation's heroes and are known throughout the world. They appeared first in comics and later on in films.

I love watching series on TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime, and release a sigh of sadness each time the series comes to an end. Think of the emotional outpour regarding Downton Abbey. MASH. I've watched twenty-one seasons of "Silent Witness," about forensic pathologists in the UK. Like "Midsomer Murders," another favorite, I'm glad to say it's still going strong.

What are some of your favorite series—in books, TV or film?


Kait said...

Oh, I'm with you Marilyn. I love reading and writing series mysteries.

As a reader, next in series books are the only ones I make sure to pre-order. It's like growing up with a new best friend as the characters grow and develop. There's also the fun of being in on the secrets of past books and "getting" all the references. Two years ago I promised myself I'd work through all of Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott books. I haven't done that yet so I think I'll put it on my to do list for 2021!

As a writer there is fun and excitement in writing a series. You get to know your characters, know what they would do in a situation and know what situations they will race toward or from. And as in real life, just when you think you have them nailed -- they reveal another facet of their personality.

Annette said...

In books, I love Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne and Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire mysteries. In Longmire's case, I also loved the TV series.

As for television, I'm hooked on the NCIS franchises, which are still running, and Leverage, which is not, but which is scheduled for a reboot featuring most of the original cast.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I'm re-reading Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police series set in the Dordogne. Beautiful natural landscape, wonderful food and wine, Balzac, a truffle-hunting basset hound, and local mysteries drawing upon past history and present crimes.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Kait, So glad you also love to read and write series. I've read some of the Deborah Knott books.

Annette, I watch NCIS and I've seen many Leverage episodes. And I've seen Longmire episodes, too.

Margaret, I loved visiting the Dordogne. Perhaps I'[ll check out Martin Walker's series.

KM Rockwood said...

My all-time favorite series character is the late Don Westlake's John Dortmunder, a bumbling criminal who never quite got what was going on. (I remember him saying, "Apparently, Thanksgiving this year was on a Thursday" when he was planning a heist.)

I also love Bernie Rhodenbarr in the "Burglar" series (do we see a trend developing here? My own Jesse Damon is paroled on a murder conviction.)

Hamish MacBeth is my favorite series character on the right side of the law.

GabrielleSilvan said...

NCIS definitely had some beloved characters over the years. I love Psych on TV, too. In different hands, the concept would be a classic cozy: the main character pretending to be psychic so he could solve crimes without joining the police force and becoming a "rule follower."

Karen Lakis said...

I agree with Annette on the Claire Fergusson series - so excited that a new one has come out! I also love Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache and Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway - and many, many more.

On television, I loved Brokenwood and hope there will be new ones, also Vera, and DCI Banks.

I am definitely a sucker for a series - probably that emotional investment in the characters.

Saralyn said...

Great topic. For all the reasons you mentioned, people love series. For me, it all boils down to a great character. If I fall in love with a protagonist, I hate to say goodbye to her. It's the same attraction as watching the soap operas in the old days. I've loved Downton Abbey, and Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, among others. A pitfall, though, is having the character involved in the same story repeatedly. Some authors lose their audiences that way.

Eona Calli said...

I also got hooked on Winspear's Maisie Dobbs historicals during this pandemic! Otherwise, I'm keeping it cozy and re-reading some of my "comfort food" favourites, like Lilian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who" and Carol J. Perry's light paranormal "Witch City Mystery" series. (I hear that Perry is kicking off a new series this year and can't wait to read the first!) A more recent addiction is the RJ Franklin mysteries, penned by V. M. Burns (only two so far; fingers crossed we won't have to wait long for the third).

It's usually mystery escapist fare for me, but I also occasionally read women's fiction, and Phaedra Patrick's latest, like her previous novels, was a heart-warming read, though my favourite of hers remains The Library of Lost and Found.

Television-wise, the Queens of Mystery and Agatha Raisin are guaranteed spirit-lifters, while Mystery Road is compelling viewing as well, albeit on the darker side.

Thanks for this blog, Marilyn. I'm assembling a reading and viewing list from the comments!

carla said...

I was a HUGE fan of a very old series-- George Chesbro's Mongo the Magnificent. A very clever protagonist (I may be the only fan of these books). Sherlock Holmes, too. Grafton's Kinsey Milhone. Nero Wolfe. TRAVIS McGEE. Always looking for a new series to become addicted to.

Marilyn Levinson said...

KM—I love Hamish Macbeth. I thought the episodes I'd seen were so very different from the books.

Gabrielle, I watch NCIS. I do miss a few characters who left.

Karen, I'm reading a Vera mystery right now. i agree it's the character or characters that have us reading or watching. And Saralyn agrees. I loved Downton Abbey and watch Bosch.

Eone—me too! I'm listening to the Maisie Dobbs books. I'd read a few some years ago and I'm up to # 8 or 9.

Carla, I never heard of Mongo the Magnificent. Hmm. I did read most of the Travis McGee books.