I enjoy reading book series, but there’s definitely an advantage to waiting until an author is finished writing them all. I began reading Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series when there were about five of them already published. They were very enjoyable, and since this was before the TV show True Blood began on HBO, I pictured my own cast of actors playing the various roles. I can’t quite remember which two actresses I merged for Sookie, but I think one of them was Kate Hudson. I still think Steve Zahn would be ideal for Sam Merlotte, the shape-shifting owner of the bar where Sookie works. I tried watching an episode or two of True Blood, but it didn’t grab me. Stephen Moyer doesn’t appeal, and while Anna Paquin (Sookie) is okay, I think her head is too big for her neck.
I’ve kept on reading the books as they are published each year, and I just finished Dead Reckoning, but it’s getting really hard to keep track of all the characters. Harris seems determined to add new types of supernaturals to each book, and no matter how many characters she kills off in one book, she still ends up juggling more in the next. There are so many different plotlines going, it’s not surprising that Harris is neglecting certain characters and leaving some storylines underdeveloped. I’m surprised that the books haven’t gotten longer each year, as they did with the Harry Potter series. They still hover around 300 pages. To help readers keep track of all the characters and storylines, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion was just published. It might be helpful, but I’m not a big enough fan to buy it for myself.
Along with the dizzying number of characters and supernaturals, the series has become darker. I noticed it first with All Together Dead. I miss the lighter tone of the earlier books. I don’t know if Harris has been influenced by True Blood, but it must be really strange for an author to see her characters appearing in an altered form onscreen while she’s still writing about them, since the show is only loosely based on the books.
I got a friend to read these books with me, and I had to laugh when she asked me who Bubba was supposed to be. My friend isn’t clueless—she just reads too fast and sometimes misses the obvious. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Bubba is definitely one of my favorite vampires.
I have another favorite Bubba. He’s a recurring character in Dennis Lehane’s detective series featuring private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Lehane began the series in 1994 with A Drink Before The War, and he stopped after Prayers for Rain, the fifth book in the series. Naturally, I was delighted when he rejoined these characters a dozen years later in Moonlight Mile. I love Lehane’s snappy dialogue. Nobody I know talks like that, but that’s probably why I enjoy the books so much. I also love Bubba, Lehane’s sociopathic gunrunner. You may never want to meet this guy in real life, but he’s a delight on the page. Moonlight Mile is far too short, and it ends without any promise of further adventures to come (sorry if that’s a spoiler!), but I’m just happy that we got another book featuring these great characters.
Nora Roberts has written over 190 novels, so it was inevitable that I’d finally read one. The Search is about dog trainer Fiona Bristow, who lives on Orcas Island with her three labs named Newman, Peck and Bogart. She moved to the island to rebuild her life after escaping a serial killer. The killer was arrested after murdering her fiance, but now a copycat killer is working his way towards the island. Even though she’s scared, Fiona continues to train her dogs and run her canine search and rescue unit. She has a steamy romance with an artist who happens to have an energetic puppy. Naturally, all these storylines eventually collide. I must admit, I enjoyed the book. It helps that I love dogs. I’m not sure if all the details about dog training and behavior would be as interesting to a cat person. It’s certainly impressive the way Roberts can write so many romantic encounters without resorting to the purple prose and silly adjectives of standard erotic writing. I’m willing to read more of her books, but there’s no way I’m reading all of them!