Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Comfort of Familiarity

It’s the middle of winter. There’ve been snowstorms in the Northeast, downpours in California, and plenty of gray sky most everyplace else. So today, I feel like hunkering down under a blanket and ignoring the world for as many hours as I can. Comfort food in the Crockpot, comfort blaze in the fireplace, comfort book in my hand.
And what makes a book the written equivalent of homemade chicken noodle soup? For me, it’s familiarity. Give me a series character, someone I know from previous books, and I’m happy.
I know what I’m going to get when I sit down to read, and I’m not disappointed. I might be shocked, or saddened, or horrified by what happens in the story. But I’m not let down because my old friend the character is there, just as I’ve come to expect.
When I open up a Miss Marple novel, I know exactly what I’ll get – a nosy old lady who isn’t taken seriously until she solves the murder. Same with a Jack Reacher thriller – he’s a loner with a strong moral code who constantly finds himself in dangerous situations. Marple doesn’t start bare-knuckle street brawls, and Reacher doesn’t go sniffing around garden parties. And I know that, because I know them as characters.
What characters do you know well and have followed from book to book? Who's your favorite?
Some I would wholeheartedly recommend are, in no particular order:
Wounded WWI vet Ian Rutledge, by Charles Todd
Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway, by Elly Griffiths
Ghanaian police Inspector Darko Dawson, by Kwei Quartey
Kick-ass P.I. Tess Monaghan, by Laura Lippman
Quebec chief of homicide (ret.) Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny
LAPD detective Elouise “Lou” Norton, by Rachel Howzell Hall
Twelfth-century British monk Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters
Newspaper police reporter Gabriella Giovanni, by Kristi Belcamino
Ex-special forces trainee and close-protection agent Charlie Fox, by Zoe Sharp

1 comment:

Dana King said...

Elvis Cole (Robert Crais)
Spenser and Hawk (Robert B. Parker)
Philip Marlowe (Raymond Chandler)

There are others I flit around to, mostly auhtors whose styles flow into my ear without effort (Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, for instance).