It Ended All Too Soon*

I would guess that, at some point, you’ve experienced a series that went on for too long. I know I have. It’s very hard to sustain a series and keep producing strong character development and fresh plots. But there are also series that we wish would go on a lot longer. Sometimes, for various reasons, authors stop writing a series just when we wish there would be more. Authors pass away, or they change direction in their writing (or careers), or the publisher simply stops publishing the books. Whatever the reason, the series ends after two or just a few books.

For example, although she was prolific, Margaret Millar wrote only three books featuring Southern California attorney Tom Aragon. He works for an upmarket law firm, and frequently finds himself doing the ‘grunt work’ for the senior partners. Still, he’s a skilled lawyer himself, and is also good at finding people. So he often does his own investigating. You can ‘meet’ him in Ask For Me Tomorrow, The Murder of Miranda, and Mermaid.

Scott Young’s Inspector Matthew ‘Matteesie’ Kitologitak works for the RCMP, one of its few indigenous officers. Although his home is in Ottawa, he also travels to the Northwest Territories. Although he doesn’t keep to all of the traditional indigenous ways, he does have a cultural connection. He’s thoroughly familiar with life in the far north, too, and with the kinds of people who live there. The two novels in which he appears, Murder in a Cold Climate and The Shaman’s Knife, depict that life and those people vividly. While Young wrote several other books, both fiction and non-fiction, he never continued this series.

Sarah Caudwell’s Hilary Tamar series is also short – only four novels. Tamar is an Oxford law professor who has mentored a number of attorneys. In this series, it’s really those younger solicitors who do the proverbial footwork when it comes to solving the mysteries at hand. And those cases usually involve one or another of those characters. The novels have a lot of dry wit and some funny scenes, but they’re not ‘laugh a minute.’ What’s particularly interesting is that Caudwell never tells us whether Tamar is male or female. And, since the stories are told from Tamar’s perspective, in the first person, that’s accomplished without the need for cumbersome sentences. Hilary Tamar ‘stars’ in Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, The Sirens Sang of Murder, and The Sibyl in her Grave. Sadly, Caudwell passed away before the series could be continued.

Ariana Franklin was a pseudonym under which Diana Norman wrote four novels about Adelia Aguilar, a 12th Century doctor. She’s a physician at a time when it’s dangerous for a woman to work in the medical field. In fact, she has to work ‘behind the scenes,’ and pretend that her assistant, Simon Menahem – Simon of Naples, is the doctor. Originally from the university at Salerno, Aguilar is summoned to the London court of King Henry II. There, she takes up residence and soon finds herself uncovering mysteries. The stories in which Aguilar appears are Mistress of the Art of Death, The Serpent’s Tail, Relics of the Dead, and A Murderous Possession. Norman/Franklin passed away in 2011, before a fifth Adelia Aguilar novel could be published.

Adrian Hyland has written several books, both fiction and non-fiction. He’s only written two novels, though, about Emily Tempest. She’s a half Aboriginal/half white ACPO (Aboriginal Community Police Officer) who lives and works in Australia’s Northern Territory. In the first book, Moonlight Downs/Diamond Dove, Tempest returns to her home after several years away. She’s soon drawn into a mystery when her best friend’s father is murdered. In Gunshot Road, she’s become an ACPO, and is seconded to Green Swamp when a man is murdered after a bar quarrel. Both cases look open-and-shut; neither really is. And in both novels, we get a close look at life in Australia’s Outback.

Christine Poulson wrote a three-book series about Cassandra James, an academic in the English Literature Department at St. Etheldreda’s College, Cambridge. As the series begins (with Murder is Academic, AKA Dead Letters), James is named Head of the department when her predecessor, Margaret Joplin, is murdered. In Stage Fright, James rewrites a novel for the stage, with the plan to do the show at the Everyman Theatre. That is, until the leading lady disappears…  Then, in Footfall, James gets involved in a case when her friend Una is murdered in what looks like a burglary gone very wrong. These novels show university life, and the ins and outs and politics of academia. There’s also a solid sense of the local setting. Poulson has gone on to another series (also quite good!) featuring scientist Katie Flanagan. But I would love to see another Cassandra James novel…

There’s also Angela Savage’s Jayne Keeney series, which I very much hope will continue. The protagonist of these novels is a Bangkok-based private investigator. An Australian ex-pat, she’s learned to adapt to life in Thailand. She speaks the language fluently and understands the customs and local ways. This makes her a valuable resource, especially for people who are not so familiar with the language and culture. The novels have a real sense of the context and setting, and Keeney is a strong female protagonist. Thus far, Keeney ‘stars’ in Behind the Night Bazaar, The Half-Child, and The Dying Beach. I hope there will be more (a-hem, Dr. Savage!)

I would also like to read more about Domingo Villar’s Inspector Leo Caldas, who lives and works in Vigo, in the Spanish province of Galicia. Caldas is a pragmatic detective who is realistic about his job and the people he serves. He’s bit philosophical, too. The novels in which he appears, Water Blue Eyes and Death on a Galician Shore give the reader a clear picture of life in Galicia and show how the local police do their work. There’s a certain wit in the novels, too.

There are, of course other series that ended after just two or a few books. These are only some examples. Which series would you like to have seen continued?

 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Little River Band’s Reminiscing.