Monday, May 05, 2014

Reed Farrel Coleman's reconciliation street, or, the ways authors end a series

Reed Farrel Coleman's The Hollow Girl is full of characters who turn out not quite as awful as the reader has been led to expect, and its protagonist, Moe Prager, achieves, if not redemption, then reconciliation with his past.

Fair enough; the novel comes billed as the last of the nine Prager books, and a number of its features, not least the novel's ending, point in that direction. I'll spoil little if I reveal that Prager spends good chunks of the book coming to terms with, and getting himself clear of, aspects of his old life.

That's how Coleman decided to end a series. How do other writers do it? How have your favorite crime writers brought series to an end?
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The Hollow Girl looks to Moe Prager's past with its plentiful references to Prager's previous cases. It reminded me in this respect of Richard Stark's Butcher's Moon, which brought back a number of character's from Stark previous Parker novels and looked for a while as if it were going to kill off one of the main supporting characters. Indeed, Butcher's Moon was the last Parker novel for 23 years.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014  

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10 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

I was PO'd that Colin Dexter simply killed off Endeavor Morse. Unlike Doyle's Holmes -- who somehow survived the plunge over the falls when readers clamored for his resurrection -- Dexter's Morse simply dies in a hospital.

I can understand that a writer gets weary of a character, but were I a writer of Morse-like novels, I think I would not soon weary of the royalties, and that would keep me going perhaps.

BTW, when Sue Grafton reaches the end of the alphabet series, what will happen to her female protagonist? (Of course, I gave up on Grafton books after A, B, and C -- hey, I had enough of the same thing each time.)

Oh, how I wish Morse would have survived! He is far and away my favorite fictional sleuth.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

K.C. Constantine retired his detective, Mario Balzic, by having him...retire, just like most people do. Constantine was always the realist so a normal, everyday retirement made perfect sense. Balzic shows up briefly in some of the succeeding novels featuring Lt. Ruggiero. Constantine still gets my vote for most underrated American crime writer.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., perhaps she could borrow from mathematics (and give her titles a good marketing hook) by calling the books A' (A Prime) etc.

Coleman has left himself openings. If he is indeed done with Prager, he has given his protagonist a fairly graceful retirement. But it would be easy for him to bring Prager plausibly back, should he decide to do so, perhaps after Coleman gets done writing Robert B. Parker novels.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary: I may have mentioned that I had often read praise for Constantine's dialogue, but that I found said dialogue called excessive attention to itself in the one book I tried. But by all means recommend another.

Moe Prager's retirement is not quite routine, but it is decidedly human and believable.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

Constantine's dialogue is a very distinctive attempt to convey the discursive, working class voices of rural Pennsylvania. Having said that, the quality of Constantine's writing has a big drop off after about the seventh or eighth Balzic novel, and the dialogue suffers the most. I think it's best to read them in order starting with The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What was his other series? And is the Balzic name a nod to Balzac?

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

There isn't really a different series, it's just that Ruggiero (I think that's his name) succeeds Balzic as police chief. All his novels are set in fictional Rocksburg, PA. I'm not sure that Balzic = Balzac, unless it can be argued that all the novels form a Comedie Humaine of life in rural PA. A correction: the first in the series is The Rocksburg Railroad Murders. Here's a review I did of one of his later novels.

May 05, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I'll try to remember to keep Constantine in mind next time I visit Whodunit?

May 05, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

I'm just getting into RFC. I'm enjoying his oeuvre so far

May 06, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He's good, definitely at least a distant relative of your work, John McF's, Dennis Tafoya's, David Corbett's, and so on. Nice guy, and an entertaining moderator of panels, too, should you have the chance to catch him in action at a Bouchercon.

May 06, 2014  

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