Friday, February 05, 2021

"The Crime Fiction Series That Defined The Last Decade"

Michael Connelly

Someone, probably his daughter, posted 
on James Lee Burke's Facebook page yesterday a link to a crimereads.com list from November 2019 listing what the writers of the piece consider to be the crime fiction series that define the decade of the 2010s .  Limiting the list to only ten guarantees that some really successful series are going to be left out, but I was just as surprised to learn that I haven't read a single word of some of the ones that did make the cut even though I probably already read way too much crime fiction. 

The ten crime series chosen are presented alphabetical order rather than being ranked:

  • Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch Series 
  • Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad Series
  • Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt Serie
  • Greg Iles's Natchez Burning Trilogy
  • Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther Series
  • Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire Series
  • Attica Locke's Highway 59 Series
  • Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy Series
  • Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache Series
  • Don Winslow's Border Trilogy
The most interesting thing to me is that despite three of my favorite crime series of all time being included on the list, there are also four that I've barely ever heard mentioned anywhere despite all the book blogs and review magazines that I regularly read. And then come the three I consider to be either mediocre or which have been forever spoiled for me by learning more than I needed to know about the authors via their Twitter rants. (I confess to finding it difficult to completely separate an author's personality from their work, and I wish I were not that way.)

I'll start with the three series on the list that I look forward to reading  something new from every year - and have for a long time in each case: Michael Connelly's Bosch, Craig Johnson's Longmire, and Louise Penny's Gamache.  If I'm still around to see it happen, I will take the termination of any of these three as a personal loss and will grieve accordingly. Seriously.

Next up, are the four I'm unfamiliar with: the series by French, Gran, Kerr, and McKinty. I'm sure that each of these deserve inclusion on a list like this one, and I'll be looking closer at them very soon, so there goes my reading plan for February and March.

Finally, there are the series by Winslow, Isles, and Locke. Locke's is still one that I read, albeit much less enthusiastically as time goes by. I really love her main characters, but the later books have become so saturated with concerns about racism that I've almost lost interest in them. Locke is a fellow Houstonian and the Highway 59 corridor she uses as a setting for the series is one with which I am well-familiar, but because of their strong focus on racism, they have become a little bit predictable now. I hope she fixes that soon, and I'll keep seeking out the new books, but I feel myself coming closer and closer to my first abandonment of one of her books.

As for Winslow and Isles, I can't go there anymore. Both, especially Winslow, have revealed aspects of their souls that would have better  remained hidden from the reading public. Winslow's Border series is very good...if a little long and overwritten at times...but I really don't care now if he adds to it. I confess even to having given away the entire series a while back just because seeing the man's name on my shelves irritated me. (You don't have to say it, I know that's a little extreme...but it worked for me.) Isles is a little more moderate on Twitter than Winslow (and so is 99.999% of the rest of the world), but I was not fond enough of the first volume of his trilogy to seek out the others even beforehand. They are very long - and too socially heavy-handed - to suit my reading tastes. I prefer at least a little subtlety with my sermon, thank you, Mr. Isles. 

The best part about the Crime Reads posting is that it includes a much longer list of "honorable mention" series. That's where I found some of the ones like James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series that I would have sworn would have been in the top ten, along with lots of other popular series and a whole bunch more I'm not familiar with at all. 

Now, I can't wait to do some exploring amongst that group of also-rans because I suspect there are some real gems to be found there. 

James Lee Burke


18 comments:

  1. It's par for the course for me, but I found the "honorable mentions" more interesting than the top ten. I'm acquainted with all in the top ten and wholeheartedly agree with Connelly and Johnson. Most of the rest in the top ten I'd switch out with honorable mentions Ken Bruen, Tim Hallinan, Mette Ivie Harrison, Joe Ide, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Laurie R. King, and Kwei Quartey.

    Oh... by the way, there's no such thing as reading too much crime fiction. ;-)

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  2. There's a whole lot to digest in the "honorable mentions" group, and it's going to take some time. Bruen and Hallinan are two of my favorites, too, Cathy. If you look at the comments below the original posting of the post over on Crime Reads, you'll see it's filled with all kind of arguing and suggestions. And THAT'S why I love this kind of list...turns up a lot of passionate people.

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    1. Yes, I started reading those comments, and it was like falling down the rabbit hole. One top ten list will never ever make everyone happy, but I certainly do like reading about the authors everyone believes were unjustly overlooked.

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    2. The passion shown in the comments made me smile. People are very protective of their favorites; you have to love that kind of longterm loyalty.

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  3. I've read Connelly, French, Johnson, Locke, Iles, and Penny--like to love on all of them. Now off to see honorable mentions. :)

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    1. I made a list of them...came up with something like 45 that I want to explore more than I have, many of them for the first time. A few of them, I've already tried and not been to fond of, but only a few.

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  4. I've read a few of Tana French's books. She's a good writer, and her novels are always intense and compelling. I just can't seem to read a lot of her all at once.

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    1. I've been on the waiting list for her latest one for months now...and it's going very slowly. Either the demand is out of sight or my library system didn't buy enough copies to go around at the usual pace.

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  5. I've read four, French, Iles, Penny and Johnson. I was rather surprised not to see James Lee Burke on there, haven't checked out the honourable mentions so will take your word that he's on there. Of the four I've read Penny is the only one I still read. I've read 5 or 6 by Johnson and just not got around to more. The other two, well I'm not sure why I haven't carried on, despite French's In the Woods being excellent. I'm with you on finding our that a favourite author isn't what you thought in real life. I'm sure I've mentioned before that there are authors I won't touch now after reading their unrestrained Twitter spite.

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    1. I tend to drift away from an author sometimes without even realizing it, only coming back to their work five or six years later to enjoy it more than ever. Just too many to try to keep up with sometimes.

      I don't understand writers, musicians, and actors who work so hard to find a loyal audience only to throw half of that audience away because of insanely hateful public utterances like those that are so common today. They must have all the money they will ever need if they can afford to do that.

      Some, like Winslow, are just nasty people. I guess it's good to know that, but he's not part of my literary world anymore, and that's on him, not me.

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  6. I've read about half of Louise Penny series and several of Murder Squad. I told myself - "no more series books" yet Ann Cleeves is calling my name lately.

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    1. I've wondered about Cleaves for a while. Some of her books get a lot of coverage, but the reviews I've seen range all the way from mediocre to excellent. I do need to read something of hers, though, because I'm really curious.

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  7. I am a dedicated fan of the Michael Connelly and the Louise Penny series, so we agree on those two. I haven't read the other series; I started reading a promising new to me crime series today. Iron Lake is the first in the series by William Kent Krueger. He wrote the brilliant book Ordinary Grace.

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    1. There are just so many series out there that it's impossible to have even heard of all of them...and they just keep popping up. I didn't know that Krueger had a series, for instance. I enjoyed his "This Tender Land" last summer, and would love to read more of his work; he's a good writer.

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  8. Funny enough, I was just reading a similar list yesterday. Of course, some of the commenters were livid because their favorites hadn't been included. That's the problem with these lists - they can never include everything and what they do include is totally subjective. Like you, though, I find these lists helpful because they introduce me to new authors and books.

    I really like the Tana French series. I've enjoyed all of her books. Louise Penny is, of course, another one of my favorites. I haven't read any of the other series you mentioned, although I just put the first Longmire book on hold at my library.

    I pay very little attention to what anyone says on Twitter, so I have nothing against any of these authors. I understand your view of them being tainted by their personal statements or views, though. Everyone has a right to their opinion, of course, but I'm not sure some people REALLY realize what they're putting out there about themselves ... yikes!

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    1. I've really got to try Tana French. I've been on a waiting list for her new one since September, and progress is slowing down rather than speeding up. Looks like all the "slow readers" are getting the book all of a sudden. LOL

      I am paying less and less attention to Twitter myself but I have several book-related lists where people like Winslow still pop up. I'm going to have to block him completely in order to avoid his poison, looks like. He seems to tweet all day long, and it's never about books anyway. Makes me wonder when the man writes anymore. I use Twitter mostly to jump-start the reviews I post here, and that still seems to help drive a few new readers to the site.

      I think you'll love the Longmire books, but as I recall they get much better only after the first couple of books. That's probably because the characters start to come to life and you start caring about them...and it's a great group.

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    2. Like you, Sam, the basic reason why I'm on Twitter is to jumpstart my reviews. I used to pay more attention to what was being said when book blogs were shiny and new, but the tweets rapidly devolved into one brush fire after another over (mostly) stupid stuff. Something has to really hit the Big Time for me to know about it, and that suits me just fine. Sometimes not knowing much about your favorite writers is a good thing.

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    3. The main thing that bugs me about Twitter is watching some people for whom I had a lot of respect just lose it completely in public the way some have. Winslow and King are the names that jump out at me because they became so obsessed with politics that they failed to see that they were tarring half the country with the same brush they were using to denigrate the man they hate so much. They are still up to it, especially Winslow, and spend most of their time posting to Twitter. The level of insult and name-calling - and outright distorting of reality - both have stooped to made me lose respect for them as human beings. But it did more than that even - and this is what I regret the most - it made me unable to read their work anymore...period. I don't like them now, don't want to know what they are up to, and don't want them in my life at all. And that's sad, because I've read thousands of pages of their work in the past.

      Oh, well...I guess I should thank them (and one other) for opening up some shelf space for me. And for giving me the time to read other books I would have missed.

      I'm working on a better method of filtering them out, but I'm finding that even blocking them doesn't always keep them from my book-timeline because others refer to them or comment about them.

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