How many of you read a mysteries series chronologically?
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Next I tackled Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series, this time in sequence and loved it. I did struggle with the awkward stylings in the earlier books but the evolution of the characters and the development of Rankin's style was really interesting. I did the same with Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series and I am working on Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin series.
It really does make the reading more rational and evolutionary. I know people who likes to skip around in the series and pick up the books haphazardously. I still call those people friends, but just barely.
I too must read the series sequentially. I have, however, on occasion, picked up the newest in a series, liked it, and therefore have gone back to the beginning, as you did with the Peter Robinson books.
However, sometimes it's hard to find the earlier books. Case in point: It DRIVES ME CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY that a small library where I work often leaves only the most recent 3 or 4 books in a series on the shelves and withdraws the earlier books. I have constant work-appropriate tantrums on this subject, but the head librarian is not a mystery reader and overrules my objections. Almost none of our mystery series are intact (with the single exception of the Sue Grafton series) Arrgh!
Imagine discovering the joys of Amelia Peabody or Agatha Raisin and not being able to go back to the beginning. Terrible.
Anyway, a lot of times the first book I read isn't the first in a series, but if I like it (and can find it) I'll always go back to the beginning of the series. I hate doing it the other way...it leaves reading along, distractedly thinking things like "What?! When did they get divorced?!"
On the other hand, if the recurring characters don't change much over time--like in Agatha Christie's books--it doesn't matter as much to me.
Of course some novelists get the series thing and some don't. Harlan Coben for example is a don't. He's always putting the SAME information (word for word in some cases) into each Myron Bolitar novel. Sure this might be good for those who are unfamiliar, but it's really annoying for a loyal reader. There has to be a balance, put some info in that helps set the scene or foundation for behavior, and then skip the details. Deaver (Lincoln Rhyme novels) does a good job at this as does Crais (Elvis Cole novels).
I'll usually re-read the entire series so I have the backstory fresh, before I start the next installment. However I did this with Grafton and it was extremely tedious after a month or two.
Some authors make it difficult. I have the Miss Marple omnibuses - collected in published order, but Miss marple's chronological age jumps wildly. I'm much less likely to try and read this in order.
I prefer to start in order from the get go, which I have done and enjoyed on series such as Barbara Parker's Gail Connors series and Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. The Gail Connors series really has to be read in order to make the most of it, because her relationship with Anthony Quintana is key to the stories and develops through the series.
The Reacher books really do not have to be read in order, but I am too much a creature of habit to skip around.
Like others, there are some series I started in the middle, not realizing they were a series. For instance, I jumped into the middle of John Lescroart's Dismus Hardy series, then went back and started at the beginning. That is another series that should be read in order because there are dozens of characters that weave into the stories.
There is one series that has eluded me. I read James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series in random order because it is so huge I can't find the beginning. At east one of the earlier ones has even changed names with subsequent publications. I just can't seem to get my arms around the whole thing.
It's a pain, too, because our library often is missing the "before they were famous" first mysteries in a series.
But it might depend on the author, too. Some "Firsts" of series are pretty lousy to the point where I won't bother to pick up any more of the series, but if you jump in in the middle where the author has found their voice, you find that they're pretty good and you want to go back and read the earlier ones.
On the other hand, many series have good initial books and then they degrade steadily as the author runs out of ideas!
Since joining LT and two book swap sites, I've been getting recommendations for authors, using Stop You're Killing Me to find series order and starting from the beginning. This is how the Carol O'Connell books are working.
My preference would always be to start from the beginning. I don't care so much where in the series a book falls for two particular authors - Jonathan Kellerman and Robert B. Parker.
Touchstones crabby today.
Edited for clarity
Oh, and I mentioned chronologically - There is one series by an author almost no one else seems to have read, Roy Hart, that is a mess. I acquired most of the series before I read a single book (10 cents a copy) and examined them first. I could tell from what the descriptions on the back said that the books jumped all over the place in time. So I reordered them according to what I thought the chronological time line went (the main character is in the police and there are times when he is an Inspector, when he is a Chief Inspector, and books where he is a Superintendent).
Oh, and that "what, when did that happen?" feeling that can creep up on you from reading books out of order can hit you when you read books in order. Very irritating feeling, and sometimes it is only after the fact that I realized that it was a case of foreshadowing and I hadn't really missed anything.
edited to add: Robert Parker is one where I stock-piled about 30 or so of the books before I read them. First, though, I read a very good book that came out in the 2000s before I started from the very beginning. So that series I jumped into out of order but read all but one in order. Read all the rest of his series in order. Oh, just recalled because of characters from the series mingling in other series - there are some authors I just haven't gotten into yet because they really seem to like to mingle their characters (in later books) and the various series are quite long.
I am currently reading James Patterson in order (Alex Cross series) and I read the full Kathy Reichs series as well.
I am weird - yes - but the structure and order makes me happy!
Did you see how many people do the same thing? No, you are definitely now weird by this standard.
Bad wording from me! It was late at night...
That said, I do realize that I'm the weird one.
I didn't see it mentioned in any of these posts, but there's a great site that gives you the proper order for a series:
It prompts you for a lot of info, but I've always had luck just entering first and last name. If the author has written more than one series, it will give you a choice of which one you want to check.
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Thanks for the tip on "whats next" I see several sequels I need to find.
Happy reading, Anni
It's funny, but I never thought that I had to read Agatha Christie in order and I've read almost all of her books multiple times. They stand alone for me in a grand-scheme-of-things way.
Michael Connelly is best read in order but I found a later one then went back. Ditto... most authors, actually. I started to try to list my mystery authors then realized that I've never read a series in order (sorry obsessive-compulsives - didn't mean to make you twitch).
Since I am a serious re-reader of favorite authors, I guess it really doesn't matter, come to think of it.
One I think it's almost crucial to read in order is the Mallory mystery series by Carol O'Connell. Even more than with Robert Crais' or Michael Connelly's characters, Kathleen Mallory's change and growth is only fully comprehensible if the books are read in order.
I just found the Johanna Brady and JP Beaumont series by J. A. Jance. I wanted to bless the author; she's got a page at her website which lists the books in the order they were published. She clearly has a story arc in mind for her main (and even secondary) characters, and if you don't read in order you'll be annoyed or frustrated. More and more authors are using personal websites to urge their readers in the direction desired, and I applaud the trend. J.D. Robb has done the same thing for her Eve Dallas books.
Somebody above mentioned Rex Stout; while I agree the first five or six should be read in order, after that I don't think it's necessary. Stout rarely refers to previous Wolfe/Archie cases in his later books.
The Holmes short stories were collected into several different anthologies (Casebook, Adventures, Return), and I think those were all meant to be read as contemporaneous to one another within the anthology.
John D. MacDonald's McGee books don't really need to be read in order; Travis's early exploits aren't often mentioned or important to the events in a following book (until you get to The Lonely Silver Rain.
What the heck is with author touchstones?????
When Iris Murdoch died, I decided to read all of her novels in chronological order - not a series, I know, but I sort of felt I owed it to her!
PS, the touchstone has come up with one of the Jasper fforde books for some strange reason!
I could tell I was missing out on so much of the background to the characters. When it got time to
read Donna LeonI made sure to read the books from the first in the series. I have recently had this unfortunate problem with Gail Bowen a writer I really admire now. But I can tell that I need to go
back to the beginning of the series to understand better things I've missed so far.
I don't feel it's spoilt anything for me yet!
I recommend www.fantasticfiction.com for series info; much broader than thrillingdetective. There's also a great book Detecting Women by Willetta L. Heising; now in a 3rd edition, it contains bios on authors as well as series and characters info. She also wrote Detecting Men but it hasn't been updated since its 1998 publication. Between this book and FF you can have comprehensive information.
anybody wanna argue, here? i spit on your sidewalk, you
*just kidding...sort of*
Others, such as Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series or John Dunning's Cliff Janeway novels, you really must start at the beginning or hazard getting lost as the characters and story develop only from the first book forward. In other words, I try to start with the first book and read chronologically when I can, but only make this a rule if it is crucial to the story being told in later volumes.
- When the Bulgarian publisher starts with the series from the middle of nowhere. For example they published Henning Mankell's Firewall (#8 in its series) without publishing any other book. And that's just one of the examples.
- When I am on a business trip - I love browsing bookstores... and if I decide I like a book, I will get it and read it almost immediately regardless of its series order. That's how I ended up reading Arnaldur Indridason starting from the last one (#6) and going back through the one before it (#5) and then #3 - that's what I found in the three bookstores I checked :) It was actually fun discovering how some things had happened after seeing a brief note for them in the newer books.
However, when I find an author whom I like and I have read the latest book first because it was the only one in the bookshop, then I will go to Amazon.co.uk and look for earlier books.
One of the most enjoyable book-reading experiences for me is coming upon a well-developed series I like and having many books to look forward to reading, without having to wait for new ones to be written. Most recently I've had that with Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, although now I've caught up and have to wait for the new ones to come out.
If the book itself gives not much of a hint that the books are a series (that is, if there is no "second part of ... trilogy" or something like that printed up front) I am willing to sample what is available. And then figure out if I should have read them in order.
Agatha Christie obviously doesn't need to be read in order: there are occasional references here and there for the earlier books, so sometimes there is a slight benefit from having read them, but they practically never influence the story.
Dorothy Sayers on the other hand is different, even if the books are often pretty enjoyable without having read them in order. You can usually figure out quickly what is the situation between e.g. Lord Peter and Harriet and the worst that can happen is finding out that if a person is alive and well in later book he/she couldn't be the murdered in the previous one.
And then there are series which draw heavily from events in earlier books and happily drop spoilers to them (that said, I don't usually mind spoilers that much): Leena Lehtolainen is one such.
Discworld series is somewhere in between: the early books were very indepenedent but later books pretty much require reading at least the subseries (so you should read e.g. the witches books or Death books in order, but can read either of those without bothering with e.g. Rincewind books...)
But what about series which do not expand chronologically? Robert van Gulik wrote the five "Chinese xxxxxx Murders" books, and after that progressed to fill in the middle parts with later books. So should the order be internal chronology or writing order? (For the curious, I think both work but I am not a close stickler to series anyway.)
Or Narnia? If you ask me the current way of publishing the series in chronological order is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! because it kills the impact of the books written first, while Magician's Nephew lacks the oomph to be the first book in the series...
"Another year; another body."
Wisconsin, the local library acted on my suggestion to get the two latest books in the Mathew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory, The Devil's Disciples and A Vein of Deceit. Of course I was notified and picked up the books when they came in, but even tho this is one of my favorite series, it was too soon since I'd read the prior book and I just couldn't read them.
Here is a website that has helped me with this problem many times. It lists each authors series by publication date.
I read Gregory McDonald's Fletch series out of order and it didn't make much difference. But if I had read Charlaine Harris' Aurora Teagarden books out of order, I would have been very confused by the changes in her love life over the course of the series.
Actually, one of the best arguments in favor of reading a series in order isn't the continuity but the author's skill development over time. Most authors get better at writing as they progress through a series, partly just from the experience of writing so many novels, partly from their growing understanding of their characters. So if you read the first book of a series after you've already read several from later in the series, you might find the difference in style jarring.
I use fantasticfiction.co.uk all the time. Not only does it help with series order, but also in finding different authors too. It doesn't do that job 100%, but has some help to it.
I, like many, must read a series in order. That said, there are a number of series that I either am reading or am about to start:
1) Mitch Rapp Series - Vince Flynn - I'm currently reading the 5th book in the series, Memorial Day
2) Sigma Force Series - James Rollins - I've read his first one, Sandstorm. Next up, Map of Bones
3) Scot Harvath Series - Brad Thor - Got his first book from my Secret Santa on here - first up is The Lions of Lucerne
4) Camel Club Series - David Baldacci - Also got his first from my Secret Santa on here - first up is The Camel Club
5) Event Group Series - David Lynn Golemon - On my "To Read" list - First up is Event
6) Jack Ryan Series - Tom Clancy - Never read any of Clancy's stuff, but picked up his standalone novel, Red Storm Rising, which I intend to read in the near future. If it's even half-way decent, I intend to read the Jack Ryan series one day, likely in "Chronological order" rather than "Publication order"
I used to read mostly horror, and so while I still do read some, I mostly read Thrillers and Political Intrigue/Espionage now. The former was mostly standalone novels (I also read the first 5 standalone novels by James Rollins), and hence why most series are in a TBR status than a currently reading status.
I also use fantastic fiction for series lists, and often turn to http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/ as well.
So nice that there are so many of us compulsives around - I also thought I was the only one. I'm currently wending my way through Victoria Thompson's Gaslight mysteries; they are set in New York in the early 20th century.
I loved the Henning Mankell series, Wallander is a great character.
I'm surprised that you would think that there are so few compulsives around. Reading a series out of order can often seem very weird. So as not to disclose what happens in books I have read (since this thread isn't about a specific author or series), I'm going to use a fake.
Take author John Doe, and he wrote a hypothetical 5 book political thriller series. Let's say they were in the following order:
Book 1 - "A Connecticut Senator in Barack Obama's Court"
Book 2 - "Barack Obama - Prince of Health Care"
Book 3 - "20,000 Seconds Under Attack"
Book 4 - "The Adventures of Joe Biden"
Book 5 - "Crime and Corruption"
And the first book is about the problems of the Republican Senator that gets elected on January 19th, 2010 (and yes, I'm aware it's MA, not CT today).
The second is about the fight for health care and all the other things that will never get through with only 59 Democrats
The third is about a corrupt right-winged citizen that pulls off a capital crime in a 5 1/2 hour span.
The fourth is about what happens under the new president for the rest of the term.
The fifth is about how the government goes red, and what happens to the country is worse than what happened from 2000 to 2008.
Now, you read the third book first. Next, you read the first book, and say to yourself "uhm...I thought he was dead".
A series has to be read in order. Things are just too weird when read in a different sequence.
Once I finish the Clancy book I'm reading, it's off to Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn (and yes, I've read Term Limits and the previous 5 books in the Mitch Rapp series).
And even then you might read the first book knowing that the events there will lead to the later books, so a character dying in #3 should be assumed to be alive in #1...(and after all there are series where the order is not chronological). It can be done, though some writers make it easier than others.
And then there are series which have little else in common than the main character: in book 1 the main character is involved in espionage in London, in the second looking for lost diamonds in Rome, in the third again in London where a woman is murdered and so forth. Beside the main character and couple of additional characters, there might be a mention in book #3 how wittily the main character found the solution in book #2...e.g. Poirot series of Dame Agatha works like this.
Linkmeister, no I can't say I have. I used to be strictly a horror reader. Now I read about 2 horror books a year, and the rest are Thrillers (often political). That said, I haven't read a large number of authors yet in the Genre (for politics, it's been mostly Vince Flynn thus far).
As someone else mentioned in another thread somewhere (don't recall where), most authors aren't consistent. They either get better as they go along, or worse. Take, for example, Tom Clancy. I read Red Storm Rising recently. Not the most stellar book I've ever read, but people I know that read the Jack Ryan series all say that the ones he wrote early were far better than his later ones. Some other authors are the other way around.
LOL...kinda weird that my hypotheical example could possibly be similar to an author from 1960 (15 years before my existence).
In actuality, all I did was look for classics ("A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court", "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and "Crime and Punishment") that I could twist the title on to express what I had to say about the Republican Party (cough, gag). I actually registerred Republican in 1996 (first presidential year I was old enough to vote as I was only 17 in 1992) and switched to independent in 2008, voting for 2 republicans (a NC Congress woman and NC Govenor, of which, only the first won) and the rest Democrats (including Obama). Bush (a.k.a. "W", who I voted for twice...moron that I now feel like I am for doing so) has taken down the Republican Party himself (and yet his father was a great president in my humble opinion). Shouldn't "strategery" have given me the hint?
By the way, of those 5 classics, I "attempted" to read "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court", but had to put the book down, read the original "Robin Hood" (whichever one it was, or if it even had a subtitle, I don't know), "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" all in the 6th to 9th grade timeframe (mid-to-late 80's), and never read "Crime and Punishment".
Are you one of those that goes to places like Wal-Mart or Airports to buy your books (where typically the latest is all that's available)? There are authors that are "new to me" that wrote stuff in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, but I always look at this site or fantasticfiction.co.uk to see the chronology of the series, and which books are standalone.
The book I'm reading now, Consent to Kill, is the 6th book of the Mitch Rapp series, and I can tell you from the first 5, you kinda have to read them in order. Main characters (like the head of the CIA in the first 2 books) are now dead, and the motive behind the 6th book is based on what happened in his 5th one, Memorial Day.
If you aren't getting the help you need here, go to www.fantasticfiction.co.uk look for the title of the first book in a series, and assuming it's not some ancient author (i.e. books written in the last, say, 50 years), you'd likely find the first one in a Borders or Barnes and Noble (Borders more likely for newer authors, Barnes and Noble more likely for older authors).
My library also has an annoying habit of having only some in a series and not others, usually the most recent. I keep a list with me of the titles the library doesn't have and whenever I'm in a used bookstore (which is often) I check to see if they have any. If so, I purchase it and then trade it in when I've read it. Works pretty well, I've found quite a bit that way. Of course, as a last resort I'll buy them from used booksellers online.
Of course there are exceptions, noted in the thread above, such as the works of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle or the formulaic writers that burn us out early on.
Question- Does it bother you when a series has a main character that never ages? Does that even matter?
I prefer it when a character and those around him/her age. I like to see the character develop and one way the author can do it is through changes in the characters' personal life, reactions to past/current events. I want the book to reflect changes in technology etc. as well.
However an author can get caught out in this. Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone first case is in 1982 and the others follow from there one right after another, which means that regardless of the year in which a book is written the time line has been set by the first book. Grafton has commented on this situation but can't change it.
You are right that there are exceptions like Agatha Christie, but I think their characters have enough appeal to keep readers interested in them.
Yes, subsequent books are written to be 'stand-alone', but I enjoy getting to know the character as he/she develops into someone that the reader wants to spend time with. Having said that, I mistakenly ordered the fifth book in the series instead of the fourth and found that someone had suffered a great loss. Now that I am back on track reading the fourth book, it takes away from the drama of the situation when I already know what happened. For what it's worth, I believe that I should read the books in the order that the author intended.
If I know beforehand, I'll usually try and get the first book and read chronologically though.
It is hard to find the series, in order, for authors that began well over thirty years ago. For example, Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" series started in 1973 and will (sadly, with his passing) end this year when the novels he had in the pipeline are published. It is quite a hunt to find some of his early works.
If you are in-love with a series, how do you like to go through them? Do you just borrow them from the library, download them on an e-reader, insist on a personal hardcover collection, wait for a less expensive paperback collection for your shelves, trade with friends, or prefer audio???
110> If I'm in love with a series, like the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert, I buy the books. In the case of China Bayles, I was behind when I discovered the series, so I started with paperbacks and will now wait until the paperback comes out for the new books. On the other hand, Susan Wittig Albert's newest series, The Darling Dahlias, I knew was coming and I bought the first book as soon as it came out in the hardback edition. Yeah, not waiting then! So, it depends, but I do want a real, paper book in my possesion.
I buy them as soon as they get out. Which in most cases means hardcover :) If I like the series enough, I do not want to wait half an year/an year for the paperback.
Initially I attempt to read a series chronologically. Often the craft of authors improves after the first few books. If I'm not enjoying an early book in a series due to the author's skill level, I may skip ahead to book 3 or 4 to see whether the craft improved. When I discover books within a series that are written as stand-alones and can thus be read out of order, wow, that's a pleasant surprise. I write my own series that way.
One author whose writing dramatically improved after the first few books is Jim Butcher, with the Harry Dresden series. (IMHO his craft slacked off in Changes, maybe due to his being under some heavy deadlines.) That series *must* be read in order.
I like to read police procedurals chronologically but I don't go crazy trying to find the first book. I think I started Rebus around book 5, and Dalziel & Pascoe around book 8? 11? One does have to be a little careful with translated books as they are often not translated chronologically. I had this problem recently with the Åke Edwardson books. I was excited to get the latest translation and then discovered the detective was still single in this one. Oy!
I always read books in order ....compulsively....couldn't read them any other way!!! Coincidentally with #1 above Peter Robinson was the first author i read this way and then i followed that with Sue Grafton and her Alphabet series and Patricia Cornwell. Since that i have tried to do the same with Peter James and Lee Child . When 61 Hours was released, Borders had a special where you could buy Killing Floor for $5. I have read that and have since bought the rest of the series (ebay - YAY!) but havent read them yet!
>110 COmysteryFAN: use a library?? oh my!!! I hate the places....they insist on getting their books back!!!!
I've always hated that about libraries, as well, they insist upon getting their books back! That and the fact that they have more books than I.
I read my first Reacher without knowing it was a series; after that, I just read them as I came across them at the Half Price bookstore, until I caught up.
Now I pre-order them, and read them as soon as they arrive, even if I'm in the middle of something else at the time.
What is this obsession with clearing out the shelves and sending everything to the library sale?
Half the books in the library sale are barely even worn out.
Don't get me wrong, I love to buy books myself from the library sale, but I only don't like library sales where the book I returned to circulation only half read can never be found again because it disappeared without warning to the library sale.
But back to what #2 was talking about, please don't ditch the books from the beginning of the series for no good reason. It takes some people a long time to read a series--especially me.
Multiply copies were purchased when the title was released to meet the demand for the book in a timely manner. As much as people lament books withdrawn and put in sales they also lament having to wait months to read new books. As this demand wanes copies are withdrawn. Keeping a library collection current and well-rounded means balancing a number of factors. With non-fiction it is important to have older books that show the development of events and ideas. The 'classics' have to be represented in literature. Genre fiction and series have grown by leaps and bounds in the past years as have the publication of original titles in paperback and it is difficult to deal with these if you don't understand/like the genre. It is easy to think that there is lots of room for more books but approximately 60% of a collection is out at any one time but there are times, like Christmas, when more of it is in and needs to be shelved.
I feel like you do about keeping an entire run of a series, particularly as I like to go back and re-read series. Many regional libraries or areas of a country (i.e., Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada) join together to have a last copy fiction collection. This ensures that through interlibrary loan a title is always available, but not at your finger tips when you want it now.
I hope this helps...
Additionally, as a reader with no discipline--i.e., I have 10 or 15 books on the go at once, and sometimes take a year to finish one of those books--I am already leaving myself open to the danger of losing access to a book if I demand that no book can go into a sale until more than one year after I return it. Foolish hope.
There are some writers I don't read sequentially: Somerset Maugham comes quickly to mind. I have written about my enjoyment of reading the Ian Fleming and Michael Connelly books in sequence on my website if you care to look. I'm at http://www.crowdedonavelvetcushion.com.
I think there are some books like the Jane Austen mysteries that i dont need to read in any particular order but then there are others like Lawrence Blocks Matt Scudder books where i think its better if you read them in order.
It drives me nuts when the library only seems to keep a book for 6-12 months and then sends it into the bins for the book-disposal sale. It's not like they are low on shelf space or something like that. I have this image in my mind that if they constantly decrease their collection numbers, then they can go back to city hall and ask for a bigger budget to buy new books. There is nothing wrong with buying new books, don't get me wrong. But there have been several times when I got busy and only made it up to page 100 of a book and had to return it. I always jot down a note of which books I haven't finished and want to pick up later. But many times when I went back to the library to get it, it had been disposed of in the books-2-buy sale (Edmonton Public Library.) Nothing is permanent in our collection. Then I have to go to AbeBooks to try to find it again. How frustrating.
Now I realize that the above paragraph is not related to the thread of chronological reading. I was careless when I first posted it, and I apologize.
However, maybe I could add that books disappearing from the public library collection contributes to me having greater difficulty in going in chronological order.
Sorry, I should have found a different thread for my rant.
My first time through some portion of the series, more than 40 years ago, I read them randomly and without regard to sequence. Now I am enjoying watching them develop. Rex Stout took care to make each story stand alone, but there is definitely directionality, as well as references to previous episodes that are treat morsels for those who've read them, without excluding other readers from anything important.
A few Nero Wolfe titles are still available at the library. The rest come through Kindle or Amazon Marketplace. I won't buy any of the rare and expensive ones, so I have to settle for them in omnibus collections.
I did the Cadfael books in order too. I can't think of any other series that wrapped so beautifully. There's no doubt in my mind that the author knew book 20 was her last. She died not long afterward.
Try interlibrary loans. I had been working through the Perry Mason series and most of the books came via ILL.
Of course some publishers are very helpful and will tell you right on the cover how that title fits into the sequence of the series. But such is not always the case.
If the publisher has left it out, and I am on my own, and if I didn't look at series on LibraryThing, then I would be all on my own.
But solving mysteries is a good way to keep one's brain active.
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