Reading in Order, or Not
(Guest Post provided by publicist.)
Here’s a question I know I’ll be getting at bookstores and other events: Can I read this one without reading the first and second?
I’ve never understood why some think reading in order is important in a series. I imagine these readers at a party, being introduced to someone new, discussing shared experiences, really hitting it off.
“Let’s be friends,” the new person says.
“Sorry,” says the in-order reader. “We can’t be friends because I didn’t know you as an infant. I don’t know your full life story, your parents, et cetera.”
The way it usually works in real-life friendship is that you can start it at any age, with people of any age. As the relationship grows, each person’s backstory is revealed, not necessarily in chronological order.
It’s the same for me with characters in a book. If I happen upon book four of a series and it looks interesting, I’ll read it, then decide if I want to know more about the protagonist—what brought her to this point, what other adventures she’s had, what she’s learned from them. I’ll then pick up either earlier or later books, depending on what’s available.
Of course, it’s different for a trilogy or other format where the story is deliberately set up in a certain order and the last line in book one connects to the first line in book two. Even then, a “prequel” might be introduced to reveal pre-prehistory.
It’s also sometimes different for tv shows, where it’s hard to understand an episode unless you’ve seen the “previously on”s.
But each book in a mystery series should stand on its own, with relatable characters and a story that has a satisfying conclusion. If you’ve started with book five of a series and have no idea about the motivation of a character, or if you feel you’re missing something, it’s the author’s fault. Every book should be a standalone.
Many people, especially writers, read the ending of a book before they finish, wanting to know how the author leads up to the denouement. Talk about reading out of order!
As a more or less reasonable segue: I once received a nasty email from a reader, railing at me for a casual remark in one of my books, that revealed the ending to “Murder on the Orient Express.” The person called me “thoughtless,” and guilty of “ruining the experience” of reading the 75-year-old Agatha Christie classic.
At what point does it become okay to discuss an ending? Or to tell a reader of the second book in a series what happens in the fourth?
Do high school students not know ahead of time that Romeo and Juliet die at the end (oops, spoiler)? Do adult film fans not know that Anthony Hopkins’s mother’s corpse is in the house on the hill? That Ilse chooses her husband over Rick?
I’d better close before I get another nasty SPOILER! email.
Thank you Camille for visiting today!!
Addressed to Kill (A Postmistress Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Release Date – July 25, 2017
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01M8PU7NR
Love is in the air for postmaster Cassie Miller and the residents of North Ashcot, Massachusetts. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the town is gearing up for a special dinner dance at the senior center. With the local musical group performing at the dance displaced from their regular practice location, Cassie is all too happy to host them during off-hours at the post office.
But not everything is coming up roses. When one of the musicians, Dennis Somerville, is found shot in his home, rumors swirl over who might have wanted him dead. Cassie must determine if there is a link between a string of recent break-ins and Dennis’s murder before another victim winds up with more than a broken heart.
About the Author
Camille received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and teaches writing throughout the Bay Area. Camille is Past President and a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America, NorCal Sisters in Crime, and the California Writers Club.
Camille has published over 20 novels and many short stories and nonfiction articles.
As Camille Minichino, she’s published Periodic Table Mysteries, featuring retired physicist GLORIA LAMERINO.
As Margaret Grace, she writes the Miniature Mysteries, featuring miniaturist GERALDINE PORTER and her 11-year-old granddaughter, Maddie. The 9th in the series, MATRIMONY IN MINIATURE was released in September 2016.
As Ada Madison, she’s published the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, featuring college professor SOPHIE KNOWLES.
A stand-alone, KILLER IN THE CLOISTER, is available on Kindle and CreateSpace.
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