My First Thought….
Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallan in Downton Abbey
…was the destruction of a gentleman. What Julian Fellowes did to Sir Anthony Strallan was unforgivable. Doofy, sweet Anthony would NEVER have gone back on his word. Never mind that Edith got to outrank Mary in the end, this was the moment Julian destroyed Downton Abbey for me! Never has a t.v. show mistake obsessed me like this did. I wrote fan fiction and then, ultimately, my own fictional series, to recover from my shock and grief. You can read more about my obsession here. Happily, Julian’s book, Belgravia, was a dud in my humble opinion. You can read my review here.
I remembered that this Top 5 is mostly about books.
The trouble with writing a series is making each book equally good. I have several series I love, but all have had their less-than-great additions. One series though stands out for getting progressively worse. In fact, I’ve given it up. It’s gotten that bad. I’m not sure if it’s greed on the part of the publisher, ennui on the author’s part of just what.
The One I Quit Reading
When I discovered Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series, I fell in love. Head over heels in love! Such vivid characters, so a nice story–not goody-goody but no one having sex on the village green. I loved Fingal and Barry and all the gang. But then….it got really popular. It started selling zillions of copies. A cash cow, you might say. Suddenly the books that once covered months of passing time, not covered about 15 seconds and took too many pages to do so.
Suddenly savvy doctor Fingal had to have his memory refreshed so often on medical procedures and naval terms that he needed an Alzheimer’s evaluation. And the amount of headlines worked in! Geesh. The citizens of Balleybucklebo must do nothing but read the Times of London! They were more up-to-date than the politicians.
This is the trouble with historical fiction. There’s an urge to explain every detail so no reader quits because they feel ignorant. But Google is the place to learn–not the story. I was so disgusted with the last volume I bought that I wrote an honest review–didn’t sugar coat it.
The Ones I Still Love, flaws and all.
As someone once said of the James Bond series, “put your brains under the seat and don’t ask too many questions….” Well, that applies to the Stephanie Plum series as well. I ADORE Stephanie, Ranger, Joe, Bob the dog, and especially Grandma Mazur and Lula. But I loved this series on audio until….yep, you guessed it! It changed readers. C.J. Critt WAS the voice of this series. She was superb! The poor reader who took over on the Recorded Books editions IS an excellent audio book reader, but…. What the heck? She totally made Grandma Mazur sound like a cartoon idiot! I still want C.J. back. I tried–I TRIED–to stay with this series on audio, but I just couldn’t. So, I read them now.
I must say that since Joe and Stephanie and are would be age-mates in real time, I’m a little amazed that they’ve kept their looks! I do wish we’d get Christmas Story presenting Stephanie’s life in the future–one “future” with Joe and one with Ranger. I’m still hoping for Diesel though. Fun series.
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evonovich
Thankfully the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency still enjoys the services of incomparable reader,
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I love William Monk! And I adore Oliver Rathbone and I admire Hester Latterly. But, as often happens on t.v. when a romantic triangle’s tension has carried the show, the series took a dip after a couple married (no spoilers on which one). Then too, the series has now gone from gritty to possibly a cause of PTSD for some readers. I like the characters too well to give up on it, but I did ask myself why I was listening to a Christmas story about sex crimes. Regardless, Anne Perry writes these brilliantly. The characters are vivid and you can smell the stench of the Victorian Thames and its surrounding slums. You can also feel the caring of Monk, Oliver, Hester and a few others. Note: This series won’t make sense if you don’t read them in order.
The William Monk series by Anne Perry
Alexander McCall Smith is a series-writing machine! This series, which began when all were residents of the same apartment building in Edinburgh, has a large cast of characters. Cyril, the dog, is my favorite–with his gold tooth. But poor Bertie–stuck at age 6, stuck wearing crushed strawberry dungarees, stuck with his hapless father and bizarre mother. I just ache for Berite. I also love Angus and Dominica, but I’m glad the guy who played the Duke of Plaza Toro died. Now if Bruce would vanish. Bringing Bruce back wasn’t good. These books began as a regular feature in the Scotsman newspaper and feature a few real life characters like Scotland’s First Minister who occasionally has a walk-on. Very fun.
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
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Lest we forget what should have been…. Andith forever
The should-have-been Sir Anthony and Lady Strallan