Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Abandoned Book Pile

In March, I abandoned many books by favorite mystery authors. I am not sure if the problem is with them or with me. Three of the books were the latest in a series and one was the first in the series by an author I am crazy about. 

I whipped bookmarks out almost as quickly as I slipped them between the pages.

I mentioned this to a fellow reader I ran into at the library and he said he quit following many series for this same reason. The author seems to run out of steam.  Or perhaps, suggested a newspaper editor friend, it is the editing...or lack of.

In any case, here were my discards for the month:

The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill - This is the ninth in the series about the crotchety coroner in 1970s Laos. There were some pricks of violence that weren't in the other ones and I felt for sure that those foreshadowed scenes I didn't want to read.

A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet - This is the second handsome vicar Max Tudor mystery. Maybe I am just over vicars or prefer the ones in the Barbara Pym novels.

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley - The fifth in the series about young detective Flavia de Luce. The story jumped from scene to scene with such rapidity that I lost sight of the real mystery.

One of Us is Wrong by Donald Westlake (writing as Samuel Holt) - Westlake wrote a series of four books very anonymously after he was already a successful author to see if his works would be popular if his authorship wasn't known. His publisher was the only other one in on the plan. After book three, though, somehow the truth came out. For that reason, Westlake lost interest in continuing the series about a television detective star who gets involved in real murders. On the other hand, I lost interest in reading this first book in that series. I will stick with his stories starring the hapless professional burglar John Dortmunder.

Have you had a similar experience? What series or authors have you given up on?


  1. I'm glad I am not the only one who has no qualms in not finishing a book. For a long time I was wondering if I was at fault in some way, lacking in staying power, etc etc. As an example recently I had to set aside "The Human Touch: Our part in the creation of the universe " by Michael Frayn. I felt a little guilty on two levels; one, Michael is one of my favourite authors and two, i just felt pretty stupid not being able to grasp a fraction of what he was trying to convey. As there are so many books I wish to read I don't feel compelled to stick with a book just for the sake of it any more and have instituted a 30 page rule OR earlier. I recall finishing many many books that I wish I had just said "This is doing nothing for me! I have to move on!"

    1. Oh Tullik, I have no problem anymore abandoning books that don't appeal. But, I am disappointed in favorite writers that I have enjoyed for years and then 'Dud'!

      Thirty pages in is a good rule. With the above books, I gave them more than that and still wasn't hooked. Time to move on.

      I have not read anything by Michael Frayn. I see though that he wrote 'Noises Off' which is one of my favorite plays/movies. I will investigate!

  2. Belle!
    I highly recommend "Headlong". It concerns a long lost painting of the "peasant" painter Pieter Bruegel. A "laugh out loud" hilarious yarn with excellent art history (some of it fictitious!) thrown in for good measure. As someone interested in art history I gravitated to it immediately and go back to read it regularly and still laugh at the bumbling antics of Martin, the main character. Frayn is a true and rare polymath; a newspaper reporter, humorist, novelist, playwright etc. His wife Claire Tomalin is no slouch either, she is an excellent biographer and literary journalist. Her Charles Dickens & Thomas Hardy biographies, among many others are simply wonderful.

    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation, Tullik. I do love a good mystery with a sense of humor. And some art history thrown in to boot! I now have 'Headlong' on my reserve list at the library. And, I will look into Claire Tomalin's work as well.