Long-running series:. Just finished the last two C. J. Box books, with Joe Pickett as the central character. Force of Nature is #12 in the series, Breaking Point #13. And I recently finished Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus book, Standing in Another Man's Grave.
This brings us to Box’s latest book, Breaking Point, which has been discussed a bit here previously. Given its cartoonish treatment of the EPA specifically and governmental regulations in general, I was prepared not to like it at all. I checked out Amazon and found lots of very positive reviews, and a devastating critique of its treatment of bureaucracy. Still, I’m sitting here in Australia, and my wife Michel has gone home. So I’ve got hours to fill in the evening. Well, there is a lot of excellent wine… In any event, I ordered Breaking Point yesterday and started reading. And all the folks on Amazon were right. It was riveting and cartoonish in its depiction of bureaucrats. But by the end of forty pages, the story has won out. I suspended my disbelief and let go. Great read. Virtually no Nate and no domestic issues for the last half of the book, just a fast-paced set of story lines. C. J. Box and Joe Pickett still have some juice. I’ll still be a bit suspicious, but will look toward #14 with more optimism.
McKinty argued that he had nothing more insightful to say about his characters after three books. I’m still thinking about that. But it does make one think of whether a long-lasting series offers much beyond predictable narratives. I think that Breaking Point does it pretty well, but most later books in long-running series are likely to be written and read with formulaic expectations. Maybe McKinty is right, but you need to be highly confident in your own abilities and willing to turn a deaf ear to the entreaties of your editor and publisher.
Have you read C. J. Box recently? Have you read the latest Rebus novel? How about McKinty's The Cold, Cold Ground? Do you agree with McKinty that authors have little new to tell us after three books about the same characters? Write. Tell this little bit of the world what you think.
- C. J. Box's web site
- Maxine's review of Force of Nature at Petrona
- Carole E. Barrowman's review of Force of Naturein the Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Charlene Giannetti's review of Breaking Point in Woman Around Town
- Marilyn Stasio's review of Standing in Another Man's Grave in The New York Times
- Allison Flood's review of Standing in Another Man's Grave in The Guardian
- Eoin McNamee's review of The Cold Cold Ground in The Guardian
- A review of The Cold Cold Ground in The Independent (Dublin)