I started out life as a mystery reader and anyone who knows anything about the mystery genre knows that it's Series Heaven. You think finding a stand-alone romance is tough these days? Try taking a swim in the mystery genre. It's damn near impossible. However, I'm one of those readers who loves following the same character(s) over the course of many books (which you can't do in romance since that would make it a "saga" and not a romance), so the mystery genre fits me like a glove.
Plus I'm bloodthirsty and like dead bodies in my fiction.
One thing that very good mystery authors do is that they make their books stand-alone even if they're part of a series. I can easily state that most of my favorite mystery authors were discovered when I read their books out of order. I was browsing at the library and picked up book five to start with. Once I'm hooked, I go back and tend to read in order.
So why can't authors in other genres do this? Seriously. It's a rare non-mystery series that I can pick up in mid-stream and "get." I acknowledge that I'm a fairly dense individual, but how come mystery authors seem to have no issue with this, but other genre writers seem determined to flummox me?
Case in point, I'm currently slogging through For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison. And damn her eyes, TRR's editor sent this to me which means 1) Wendy has to keep reading and 2) Write a review on the damn thing.
I dare anybody who hasn't read any of the previous books in this series to make it past the first chapter. I was confused before I finished page one and I'm still confused on page 102. I had to go over to Romantic Times and read the reviews for the previous books in the series just to get an idea of the back story and who all these people were. Color me crazy here, but I don't think you should have to do homework to enjoy a book. It kind of takes all the fun out of it.
So back I go to slogging. I have the first book in the series in my TBR, and I'm wondering now if I should even bother. I know some of you might think, "Well you shouldn't review a book when you aren't familiar with the author's series" but that's a bunch of horse hooey and we all know it. How many authors generate a large fan base with their debut novel? Not many. It typically takes several books, over the course of many years (are you authors depressed yet?) And most readers discover new authors several books in.
Plus, readers want instant gratification. We want to pick up a book, any book, and enjoy it. We don't want to hear, "Well you really need to read the first six books to appreciate that new shiny new novel you picked up off the library shelf." That's way too daunting. Book seven is the one that looks good to us; we want to read it and it enjoy now. Not after six other books. I'm certainly not asking for info-dumping the entire back story in every single new installment - but dang some hints would be nice. I know it isn't easy, but who said writing is?
I need to find my happy place. Either that or curl up into the fetal position and start sucking my thumb.