Crime: E is for Evanovich? Prolific lady sleuths.

“You know what I really love a book to have?” she asked me.
“No, what?”
“About 20 sequels!!”

We were counting through Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, but she’d already read all 18, and was getting desperate. In fact, she’d also been through our If You Like Janet Evanovich list, and looked through a few other library’s lists as well. Some readers are just voracious like that. It was time to bring in the big guns. In my experience, even the most well-read fan of lady detectives will have missed some of the following extensive series; maybe you have too.

If you’ve fallen behind, now is a great time to get caught up with Sue Grafton’s alphabetic Kinsey Millhone books; having kicked off the series with A Is for Alibi way back in 1982, Grafton is up to V, (that’s 22 titles, if you’re counting) and the series that started as contemporary is now charmingly historical: remember the 80s? No email, no cell phones – sounds like heaven. What I want to know is, what will Z stand for? After 26 books, will it all add up to “zero”?

Find City of Whispers by Marcia Muller in the Seattle Public Library catalog1982 was also the year that Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski made her first apperance in Indemnity Only. Last year Paretsky was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America (Grafton got her own Grand Master in 2009), and the righteous Chicagoan Warshawski’s 15th case – Breakdown – more than lives up to the honor.

By 1982, Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series was already five years old, having debuted in 1977 with Edwin of the Iron Shoes. All these years later, McCone is still going strong in her 29th outing – City of Whispers. It has been fascinating to watch McCone mature over 35 years, and gut wrenching to witness some of her narrow escapes.

Linda Barnes’ dozen Boston-based mysteries featuring the towering redhead Carlotta Carlyle span two decades. This series seems to have reached its end, though one never knows; even Sherlock Holmes came back from the dead, and Carlotta is still alive and kicking ass.

Laura Lippman’s excellent series featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan is closing in on a dozen books, although her eleventh title – The Girl in the Green Raincoat – has thrown her a real curveball: she’s having a baby. This should get really interesting.

Between her Kate Brannigan series and her Lindsay Gordon series, British writer Val McDermid has a dozen gritty mysteries with tough lady sleuths.

And there we are – seven authors, 120 great mysteries. Have a great year!

7 thoughts on “Crime: E is for Evanovich? Prolific lady sleuths.”

  1. David…would like to add in The Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. While they are not necessarily chronological, if you read them in published order, much more is understood about the main character. They are, however, perfectly readable individually and also out of order.
    Many of J. A. Jances books are better read in order too in order to feel the character development. I think the Vorkosigan series by Lois Macmaster Bujold is this way too…one gets subtle hints into the main characters psyche by reading them as they were published.

  2. Now that I am on the correct theme….( ahem….) I’d like to add in the Kate Shugak novels by Dana Stabenow….now there’s a character who develops and grows with each passsing book. Her story can be read out of order too, yet there are many references understood better by reading in order.

  3. As a fellow mystery fiend, a few series come to mind:
    Anna Pigeon is a Nation Park ranger in 17 of Nevada Barr’s novels.
    S.J. Rozan’s series starring Lydia Chin includes 11 books, beginning with China Trade.
    Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory is the heroine of a grittier series of 10 novels to date.

  4. Hey – thanks Deb – those are great. I’ve read and LOVED Rozan, both the series and a great post 9/11 book she did called “Absent Friends.” I confess I’ve never gotten around to Barr, and I need to give the Mallory books another chance – wasn’t crazy about “Winter House,” but I think it was me, y’know?

  5. and i especially enjoy the books of both karin slaughter and lisa gardner. karin’s books are a little more graphic, especially the first few, but they are both great. and funny, you didn’t mention patricia cornwell and kathy reichs either.

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