Book Series By Volume: Hard-boiled Edition

For this installment of Book Series By Volume I’m sleuthing out detective novels. There are several bulky series to look at, but I’ve picked my personal big three.

Harry Bosch Series by Michael Connelly

The 22 books cover about one and a half cubic feet, but Bosch shows up in a couple other satellite series by Connelly and is probably one of the more complex detective characters out there. Grizzled, aging, angry at the scrutiny his bosses in the LAPD put him under, and slightly annoyed at carrying the name of a well-known 15th-century Dutch artist, Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is a detective from the old noir school of investigation. A deeply flawed man, Bosch is all too aware of his failings, but uses those perceived short-comings to bolster his unwavering belief in justice over correctness and justify his methods in achieving it. Despite being saddled with partners throughout the series, Bosch is an unapologetic loner, which is often what puts him in difficult positions. If you like gritty noir, this series should be on your nightstand.

J. P. Beaumont Series by J.A. Jance

At 24 books and several short stories (as well as several appearances in Jance’s Joanna Brady series) the books take up around one and two-thirds cubic feet. Set in Seattle, Jance takes many opportunities to show off our fair city. I’ve always been curious as to whether Beaumont’s initials were a quiet homage to our locally-loved J.P. Patches. Beaumont is also an aging detective ala Bosch, but for SPD and with less chip-laden shoulders. Trusted and respected by his peers and superiors (excepting Paul Kramer, of course) Beaumont takes on the tough ones; high profile ones, touchy ones, cold case ones. Aware of his flaws, he is an introspective character that cares deeply about the people close to him and his community, both personal and professional. This leads to the occasional humorous event in his personal life, but also defines his doggedness in solving his cases. Not as heavy as the Bosch books, but steeped in detective-ness.

Garrett P.I. Series by Glen Cook

By far the lightest at 14 books and only four-fifths of a cubic foot. It is set in the clearly fantasy-based city of TunFaire and exposes the seamy side of Unicorns gone bad, the bitchy side of Elven Maidens, and the scrupulous honesty of professional thieves, among other unbelievable twists of character. Garrett is an ex-Marine who lives with a roommate who’s been dead for over 400 years, has a best friend who is a vegetarian half-dark-elf assassin, and whose elderly houseman keeps trying to hook him up with one of his nieces that may have ogre in her family tree. Garrett wisecracks his way through crimes that don’t always match their appearance. If you’ve always wanted to read hard-boiled detective-noir based in Discworld, this is the series for you.

Surprise Bonus Entry! (aren’t you the lucky one!) At a mere 348 cubic inches (gasp! not even a quarter of a cubic foot!) it’s hardly worth mentioning the 4 book John Justin Mallory Series by Mike Resnick except to note that if you love Garrett, you don’t want to miss this series! Saddled with Felicia, a ninety-three pound cat variant that only loves him when he’s feeding her, a magic mirror that plays dirty movies, and a partner that’s a former big game hunter with gryphon and unicorn heads mounted on her walls. Mallory shows far more wit and patience than one would expect from a noir-based detective – especially one based in an alternate Manhattan. Take a pinch New York cynicism, add fantastic creatures and races, a dusting of magic, and stirring in a big dollop of humor, and you’ve got the making of a rollicking series that is far too short.

~posted by Jay F.

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