Category Archives: Stefan Tegenfalk

His Formulas to Them Are Hazy*

inventionsAs this is posted, today marks the 13th anniversary of the launch of Facebook. At first, it was just supposed to be a way for people on campuses to be connected to one another. But, as we all know, it’s grown to be much, much more than that. Whoda thunk?

But that’s the thing about inventions. No matter what you think of Facebook, it’s a phenomenal success in a lot of ways. And there are plenty of other inventions that started small and have ended up being extremely successful. Just look at crime fiction, though, and you’ll see that they can also be fraught with danger.

For example, in Agatha Christie’s play Black Coffee, we are introduced to Sir Claud Amory, a renowned physicist. Sir Claud has developed a secret atomic formula for the Ministry of Defence. That formula is worth a great deal of money, so Amory’s fear that someone in his family may be trying to steal it is not irrational. He asks Hercule Poirot to travel to his home, Abbot’s Cleve, and investigate. Poirot and Captain Hastings oblige, with their plan being to spend the weekend at Amory’s home. On the night of Poirot’s arrival (but before he and Hastings get to Abbot’s Cleve), Sir Claud gathers the members of his family in the library and announces that he knows someone has stolen his formula, and that he knows the thief is in the room. He goes on to say that that person will have one opportunity to return the formula. The lights will be turned off for one minute, during which time the thief is to put the formula on the library table, and there will be no repercussions. The formula does re-appear when the lights go off, and it’s that moment that Poirot and Hastings come on the scene. At first, it seems their services are not needed. But then, Sir Claud is found dead of poison. In the commotion following that discovery, the formula disappears again. Now, Poirot and Hastings have to find a killer and the missing formula.

Hake Talbot’s Rim of the Pit introduces readers to the family of French émigré Grimaud Désanat. He owned a piece of forested land that now has become valuable and important. That’s because the trees on it are necessary to maintain a specialty wood production factory which is owned by Luke Latham and Frank Ogden. The factory is especially successful because of a patented process that was developed by Ogden. But the factory is facing a problem: it needs more of the right kind of tree. As it happens, Ogden is married to Désanat’s widow, Irene. She claims that she inherited the forest in question from her first husband, and that his wish was that it not be logged for twenty years. But the business can’t wait that long. So, she, Latham, and Ogden decide to hold a séance and contact Désanat, to get his permission to go ahead with the logging. So, they gather several people to participate. Late on the night of the séance, Irene is found murdered. Whether her death has a supernatural explanation (which some people believe) or not, it’s frightening. Now, the guests have to discover the truth about the murder, before someone else dies.

In Richard and Frances Lockridge’s The Norths Meet Murder, Jerry and Pamela North are planning to have a cocktail party in the empty Greenwich Village apartment upstairs from their own. It’s been vacant for some time, and they don’t believe their landlady, Mrs. Buano, will object. Plans go ahead for the party, but everything changes when the Norths discover a dead body in the bathtub of the empty apartment. The dead man turns out to be attorney Stanley Brent, and Lieutenant William Weigand of the Homicide Bureau investigates his murder. The Norths themselves come under some suspicion (after all, they discovered the body). But there are several other suspects, too, including an inventor named Louis Berex. It seems that he’s patented some small, but important inventions in the field of wireless and cable pictures, and is now working on some inventions related to television. He might very well have been desperate for money to continue his work – money he might expect through his relationship with the victim’s widow, Claire. It’s a complicated case, though, and Weigand has to sift through several people’s past histories and alibis to get to the truth.

Stefan Tegenfalk’s trilogy features Walter Gröhn and Jonna de Brugge of the Stockholm County Police. In Anger Mode, the first of the novels, a series of brutal murders is committed, each by someone who works in some capacity for the justice system. What’s strangest about these murders is that the killers have absolutely no memory of committing the crimes. As the investigation goes on, we see that the killings are connected to a new invention – a ‘wonder drug’ if you will – that has far-reaching consequences. It’s an interesting look at the ways in which what seems like a very useful new invention can be used for the wrong purposes.

And then there’s Geoffrey Robert’s The Alo Release. In that story, legendary environmental activist Jay Duggan has been working for a Los Angeles-based environmental watchdog group called the Millbrook Foundation. The group is especially concerned about Vestco, a large company that’s about to release a new seed covering. The company claims that this innovation will increase food production and do much to alleviate world hunger. But the Millbrook people are suspicious of those claims, as are many other people. And there is great concern about the possible negative consequences of releasing the seed coating. With only nine days to go until the release, there’s nothing Millbrook can do to prevent it. Partly in disgust, Duggan decides to retire and return to his native New Zealand. He invites two colleagues, Science Director Dr. Catherine ‘Cat’ Taylor, and IT director Matthew Liddell, to join him in New Zealand for a visit before they return to work. Both accept the invitation and the trip is planned. The three are en route when the body of one of Vestco’s employees is found in his office. What Duggan, Taylor and Liddell don’t know is that they’ve been framed for the crime, and are now considered fugitives. When they land in Auckland, they’ll have to find out who the real killer is, and evade the police, in order to clear their names. And that’s to say nothing of trying to stop the release of the seed covering.

You never know where small inventions might lead. Some of them, such as Facebook, can be incredibly successful. But, as crime fiction shows us, the path can be very dangerous.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from The Hollies’ Mad Professor Blyth.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Frances Lockridge, Geoffrey Robert, Hake Talbot, Richard Lockridge, Stefan Tegenfalk

And a Man is Held in a Foreign Jail*

international-arrestsWith travel as straightforward (if not always easy!) as it is in now, there’s more international travel than ever. And in crime fiction, that means it’s more likely that a suspect might easily be from another country. That can present some legal issues, which can add an interesting layer of complexity to a story. And then there are the cultural issues, too. So it’s not surprising that this sort of story has made its way into the genre.

In Angela Savage’s Behind the Night Bazaar, for instance, Bangkok-based PI Jayne Keeney works to find out the truth behind two murders. One is the killing of her good friend Didier ‘Didi’ de Montpasse. The other is the murder of his partner, Nou. The trail puts Keeney on an intersecting course with Australian Federal Police (AFP) agent Mark D’Angelo. He’s in Thailand as a part of an effort to put a dent in the child sex trafficking industry by going after Australian perpetrators. It’s a challenge to begin with, made all the more difficult by the cultural differences between Australia and Thailand. Admittedly, D’Angelo is not the reason for the two murders. But his reason for being in Thailand sheds an interesting light on facing the issue of crimes that are committed by citizens of another country.

We also see that in Stefan Tegenfalk’s Project Nirvana, the second of his trilogy featuring Stockholm County police detectives Walter Gröhn and Jonna de Brugge. In this novel, the German police are working on a case in which four scientists have been murdered. They suspect a Swedish man named Leo Brageler, who’s currently in Germany. However, there doesn’t seem to be a real motive for the crime. The German authorities are hoping that they can get some background on the man from Swedish authorities, and ask for help from the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation. Then Brageler goes missing, and the case gets much more complicated…

The real action in T.J. Cooke’s Kiss and Tell begins when Bella Kiss, a Hungarian national, arrives at Heathrow Airport. She’s trying to smuggle in drugs, but she’s caught and quickly arrested. She admits to having the drugs, but she won’t say who paid or coerced her into bringing them to the UK. Once in custody, she asks to speak to London attorney Jill Shadow. Shadow has never heard of Bella Kiss before, but she goes to the prison where the young woman is being held. There, Bella asks for her help and seems very much afraid for her life. But she’s uncooperative, so Shadow soon sees that she’ll have to find the answers for herself. The closer she gets to the truth, the more in danger she finds herself. And it turns out that this case goes far beyond a woman trying to earn a little extra money by smuggling drugs. There’s an interesting look in this novel at the legalities of working with clients from other countries who’ve been arrested in the UK.

In Marla Cooper’s Terror in Taffeta, San Francisco- based event planner Kelsey McKenna is in the small Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende, managing the destination wedding of Nicole Abernethy and Vince Moreno. During the festivities, Dana Poole, one of the bridesmaids, collapses and dies of what turns out to be poison. For several reasons, the police suspect the bride’s sister Zoe, and she is duly arrested and imprisoned. She claims to be innocent, and Kelsey believes her. So she starts to ask questions. One of the plot threads in this novel is the challenge of being arrested while one’s in a foreign country.

Geoffrey Robert’s The Alo Release introduces readers to the Los Angeles-based Millbrook Foundation, an environmentalist watchdog group. Along with many others, the Millbrook people are concerned about a new, genetically modified seed coating that a company called Vestco is about to release. Millbrook’s people are suspicious of Vestco’s claims and its agenda, and have worked to stop the release. They haven’t been successful. With nine days to go, the foundation’s leaders have decided to stop fighting Vestco, and turn their energies elsewhere. Legendary environmental activist Jay Duggan has taken this opportunity to retire to his native New Zealand, and has invited Science Director Dr. Catherine ‘Cat’ Taylor, and IT Director Matthew Liddell to visit him in New Zealand before they return to work. Then, Vestco employee Henry Beck is found murdered, and Duggan, Taylor and Liddell are framed for the killing. Unaware of this, they land in New Zealand, and soon find that they’re considered international fugitives. Now, they have to go up against some very powerful people, to say nothing of the police of two countries, as they work to find out who really killed Beck and what the truth is about the release of the new seed coating.

And then there’s Jean-Denis Bruet-Ferreol’s Cemetery of Swallows. That novel begins as Manuel Gemoni travels from France to the Dominican Republic. There, he kills an old man named Tobias Darbier, a Dominican citizen. He’s been badly injured, so Police Commissioner Amédée Mallock of the Paris CID has been sent to bring Gemoni back to France as soon as his condition allows. Then he’ll face justice for what he’s done. Mallock is especially interested in this case because Gemoni’s sister, Julie, works for the CID as well. When he gets to the Dominican Republic finds that the only thing Gemoni says about the killing is that he killed Darbier,
 

‘…because he had killed me.’
 

That response doesn’t help Mallock at all, so he has to start digging to find out the history of the two men. One of the plot threads running through this novel is the paperwork and bureaucracy involved in taking Gemoni into French custody without causing problems with the Dominican authorities. It makes for an interesting layer in this novel.

With more people than ever going to different countries, it makes sense that this plot point would find its way into crime fiction. And it certainly has. Which novels with this motif have stayed with you?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Graham Parker’s Everything Goes.

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Filed under Angela Savage, Geoffrey Robert, Jean-Denis Bruet-Ferreol, Marla Cooper, Stefan Tegenfalk, T.J. Cooke

Dr. X Will Build a Creature*

DollyAs I post this, today would have been Mary Shelley’s 219th birthday. As you’ll know, her most famous work, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, addresses an ethical question that’s challenged us for a very long time. Just because we can do something, does that mean we should do it? It’s not surprising this question would have come up at the time Shelley wrote this novel. Electricity had recently been channeled for human use, and it frightened a lot of people. And that wasn’t the only scientific development of the day, by any means. To many people, it must have seemed that it was all moving too quickly, in very dangerous directions. So Shelley’s cautionary tale makes sense given the era.

But it’s by no means the only story that addresses that question. We see it come up in crime fiction quite a lot, and it raises interesting ethical issues. And those issues can add a solid layer of suspense to a plot, and invite readers to stay engaged.

Agatha Christie’s play, Black Coffee, revolves around a potentially very dangerous scientific advance. Famous physicist Sir Claude Amory has developed a formula for an atomic bomb (the play was written in 1930, before this possibility became a reality). As you can imagine, the formula is worth a great deal of money, and Sir Claude has come to believe that someone in his family wants to steal it for that reason. And as we get to know the different people in his household, it’s not hard to see why he feels that way. He asks Hercule Poirot to travel to his country home at Abbot’s Cleve to find out who the guilty party is. Poirot and Captain Hastings make the trip, but by the time they arrive, it’s too late: Sir Claude has been poisoned, and the formula’s been stolen. The play itself isn’t regarded as one of Christie’s best works. However, it does raise the question of what we should do with the knowledge of how to make such a devastating weapon. Sir Claude wanted to provide it to the government in order to protect the country, but the question could be asked: should the information be available? It’s a difficult dilemma that US President Harry Truman faced some fifteen years later.

In Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, we are introduced to Walter and Joanna Eberhart and their two children, Pete and Kim. The Eberharts make the move from New York City to the small town of Stepford, Connecticut. Housing’s less expensive, taxes are lower, schools are good, and it’s the perfect small town to raise a family. At first, things do seem to go well, and everyone settles in. Not long after the family’s arrival, Joanna makes a new friend, Bobbie Markowe. Little by little, Bobbie begins to suspect that something is very wrong in Stepford. At first, Joanna doesn’t believe her. And in any case, they’ve just moved, and the idea of moving again is out of the question. But then, Joanna learns to her dismay that Bobbie was right. Something sinister is going on in the town. Levin doesn’t specifically address the question of whether we should do something just because we can. But the novel does show what can happen when the wrong people have access to frighteningly successful technology.

The question of whether we should do something just because we can is explored in a slightly different way in Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Smilla Jaspersen is a half-Inuit Greenlander who’s now living in a Copenhagen apartment building. She’s terribly upset when ten-year-old Isaiah Christiansen, who lives in the same building, dies from what looks like a tragic accidental fall from the roof of the building. But Smilla isn’t so sure it was an accident. The evidence she sees in the snow suggests something else, and she starts to ask questions. The trail eventually leads back to Greenland, so Smilla gets a place as a maid/cleaner on an expedition ship that’s going there. That’s where she discovers the truth about Isaiah’s death. Some readers have said that the second half of this novel is a little more like a science fiction story than a murder mystery. Certainly it raises the question that a lot of science fiction does: should every scientific investigation be pursued? Are there some things we should leave alone?

Stefan Tegenfalk’s Anger Mode is the first of his trilogy featuring Stockholm County CID detectives Walter Gröhn and Jonna de Brugge. In it, a series of brutal murders are committed, all by people who work in some capacity for the justice system. What’s even stranger is that none of the killers has any idea why the murder was committed. Gröhn gets assigned to the case, and soon finds that there are plenty of people, some in very high places, who don’t want him to solve the murders. In fact, his career nearly derails because of it. And in the end, we learn that one important element of this story (and of the trilogy, really) is the question of scientific developments and technology, and where they may lead. It’s a look at the issue within the thriller context.

Of course, lots of other thrillers do a similar thing. Robin Cook’s thrillers, for instance, often raise the question of medical ethics. Novels such as Godplayer, Coma, and Chromosome 6 explore some of what is possible in medicine and science. And they ask whether it’s in our interest to take those fields as far they can go.

Mary Shelley explored that issue in Frankenstein. Nearly 200 years later, we’re still wrestling with it. Every time we make a scientific, medical or technological advance, we are also faced with the question of whether that advance does more harm than good. It’s not an easy issue, which makes it a really intriguing element in a crime story.

ps. The ‘photo is of Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, and one of her offspring.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Richard O’Brien’s Science Fiction Double Feature.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, Mary Shelley, Peter Høeg, Robin Cook, Stefan Tegenfalk

Just Put the Phone Down*

Mobile VulnerabilityLook around you for a moment. My guess is that there’s a good chance that you’re only a few feet (at most) away from…your telephone. Of course, today’s telephones do a whole lot more than just let people make calls wherever they are. For instance, mine lets me keep up with the blogs I read, make comments, engage with my online students, take photographs, read the news, do Internet research, and get just about wherever I want to go without getting lost. And mine isn’t a particularly upmarket model.

A lot of people will say they’ve come to really depend on their telephones. But just as many people think of them as, at best, mixed blessings. For one thing, telephones can be awfully intrusive. When colleagues and others can reach you at any time, they frequently do just that. And it can be very difficult to avoid (or break) the habit of checking email or texting instead of being more tuned in to wherever you are.

Telephones can make a person vulnerable, too. Just think of all the private information that may be on yours. There are other ways as well in which telephones can be used against a person. And that’s just why they can also be interesting parts of crime novels.

In Stefan Tegenfalk’s Project Nirvana, for example, Stockholm County police detectives Walter Gröhn and Jonna de Brugge get involved in an international investigation when the German police seek Sweden’s help in solving the murders of four German scientists. There’s reason to believe that Swedish national Leo Brageler is the killer, but there seems no motive. The German authorities are hoping that the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation can help them link Brageler to the scientists. There are other possibilities as to the killer, though, and Gröhn and his team want to explore those too. At one point in the novel, de Brugge has followed a lead to one particular possible suspect, and finds out almost too late that her telephone has made her vulnerable. I can’t say more than that without giving away too much, but I can say that it’s not one of those ‘didn’t bring telephone with me and am all alone’ sort of situations.

In Peter James’ Not Dead Yet, Brighton and Hove Superintendent Roy Grace is working on the strange murder case of a man whose torso was found in an abandoned chicken coop. He’s also been assigned to help protect international superstar Gaia Lafayette during her upcoming stay in Brighton, where she’s making a film. Along with everything else, he’s concerned that someone in his department might be leaking details of some of the team’s investigations. So, he’s advised to have the High Tech team look at his Blackberry to see if someone’s gotten access to some of the information there. That plot thread shows how someone might hack a mobile device. It also shows how vulnerable privileged information can be.

Another police investigation is compromised in Kazuhiro Kiuchi’s Shield of Straw. In that novel, SP (Special Police) officer Kazuki Mekari of the Tokyo Municipal Police Department (MPD) gets a very difficult assignment. He is told to take a team to Fukuoka and escort a prisoner back to Tokyo. But this is no ordinary prisoner. This is Kunihide Kiyomaru, who is responsible for raping and killing the granddaughter of wealthy business magnate Takaoki Ninagawa. And Ninagawa has taken the unusual step of offering a very public billion-yen reward to anyone who kills Kiyomaru. Mekari and his team go to Fukuoka, collect their prisoner, and begin the journey back to Tokyo. But they soon run into trouble. Wherever they go, it seems that news of their presence gets there first, and they have to contend with crowds of people, many of whom are eager to claim the reward money. Despite spur-of-the-moment changes of plans, they don’t seem to be able to break free of the many people who are trying to kill Kiyomaru. Someone keeps publishing detailed live GPS information about their whereabouts. It’s a scary reminder of how easy it can be to get that sort of data and misuse it.

In Sinéad Crowley’s Can Anybody Help Me? we are introduced to new mum Yvonne Mulhern. She’s recently moved from London to Dublin with her husband, Gerry, so that he can take advantage of a good career opportunity. Yvonne loves her husband, but he’s gone much of the time, and she’s overwhelmed by the demands a new baby makes. In need of support and company, she turns to an online forum called Netmammy, a group of other new mothers. Yvonne finds great solace in the online group. There’s even a very telling scene in which she’s at a real-life party with her husband, but uses her ‘phone to access the site. And she’s not the only member who’s that drawn to the group. Then, one of the members seems to disappear, and Yvonne gets concerned. Then, the body of a woman is discovered in an empty apartment. Sgt. Claire Boyle and her team investigate, and try to trace the victim’s last days and weeks. The woman’s profile (age and so on) is very similar to Yvonne Mulhern’s missing online friend. Is it the same woman? And if so, what might this mean for the other members of Netmammy? This novel points out, among other things, just how much information we reveal online without always knowing it. And it shows how much a person can find out by picking up a telephone.  

There’s also Max Kinnings’ Baptism, in which criminals make use of a mobile ‘phone. London Underground driver George Wakeman is getting ready for work one morning when his home is invaded by three hostage-takers. They take his wife and children prisoner, and give him a mobile ‘phone. Then they tell him to go to his job and follow every instruction he is given. With no other choice, Wakeman does as the hostage-takers say, and drives to his job. Using the number of the telephone they’ve given him, the criminals direct Wakeman to begin his route as normal, so he gets into the cab of his train and starts the route. The hostage-takers board the train, too, and it pulls out from the station. After a time, Wakeman is ordered to stop in a tunnel. Soon enough, Wakeman learns why he has been targeted. The team wants to take his entire train (with about 400 passengers) hostage. DCI Ed Mallory, an experienced negotiator, is assigned to the case to see if he can find out what these people want and whether he can free the passengers before it’s too late.

See what I mean? Of course today’s telephones are incredibly useful. But sometimes, they’re more dangerous than you know. Oh, wait! Excuse me, please, I just got an email and I really need to check it…

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Buzzcocks’ Phone.

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Filed under Kazuhiro Kiuchi, Max Kinnings, Peter James, Sinéad Crowley, Stefan Tegenfalk

They Are Three Together*

TrilogiesAn interesting guest post on mystery novelist Patricia Stoltey’s site has got me thinking about trilogies. Before I go on, let me encourage you to visit Patricia’s blog. Interesting posts about writing, and updates on the Colorado writing scene, await you. And this particular post includes some useful input on writing a trilogy, for those who may be contemplating that.

Trilogies aren’t a new phenomenon, of course. When it comes to crime fiction, they’ve been around for quite a while. And there are plenty of examples. Space won’t permit me to discuss all of them, but the few I mention here should give an idea of what’s out there.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw trilogy features Glasgow police detective Jack Laidlaw. Consisting of Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch, and Strange Loyalties, this trilogy is argued to be the first example of ‘Tartan noir.’ The novels are tied together by Laidlaw’s presence and some other elements. However, each of the novels has a different case and focus. So (and this is important in a trilogy) the books can stand on their own in terms of the individual stories.

McIllvanney’s Laidlaw series isn’t the only trilogy set in Glasgow.  There’s also Malcolm Mackay’s Glasgow Underworld trilogy. The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, How a Gunman Says Goodbye, and The Sudden Arrival of Violence offer the reader a look at Glasgow’s criminal world and those who inhabit it. Many of the main characters are professional killers, and the books show how these people go about their jobs. Again, the trilogy is held together by some of the characters’ personal stories, and by its overarching theme. But each novel tells a different story.

Stefan Tegenfalk’s trilogy features Stockholm County CID police detectives Walter Gröhn and Jonna de Brugge. Anger Mode, Project Nirvana, and The Weakest Link are thrillers that include elements of the police procedural. There are international plots, there’s high-level corruption, and so on. There are also plot threads involving Gröhn and de Brugge’s work lives. Each novel has an individual plot. At the same time, though, there are arcs that cross all three novels. And there are characters besides Gröhn and de Brugge who recur.

There’s also Carlo Lucarelli’s historical (WWII and post-WWII) trilogy featuring Commissario de Luca. In these novels (Carte Blanche, The Damned Season, and Villa Della Oche), we see how de Luca has to negotiate the landmine that is the political landscape of Italy during this time. As Mussolini’s regime slips from power and then is defeated, de Luca has to deal first with the fascist regime, and then with the backlash against it. The whole time, he has to find a way to survive the changes in power as well as do his job.

And I don’t think I could discuss crime-fictional trilogies without mentioning Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles trilogy and Len Deighton’s Bernie Sansom trilogy. Both feature main characters who are, if you will, caught in the tide of larger events and movements, and try to do their best in what’s sometimes a very dark world. The trilogies are quite different (‘though both are noir trilogies), but both main characters are essentially decent but cynical people who have to do their best to survive in a climate of world-weariness and sometimes hopelessness. There are lots of other trilogies out there, of course, and they’re not just crime-fictional trilogies, either.

There are good reasons to choose the trilogy format, both for authors and for publishers. For authors, the trilogy allows for character development and story arcs along the lines of what’s possible in a longer series. There’s also flexibility, so that the author can explore different main plots within a trilogy. What’s more, for both author and publisher, a trilogy allows for a commitment without risking too much. And for the publisher, the trilogy can mean more sales, as it may motivate readers who’ve enjoyed the first book to purchase the other books.

And that brings me to the benefits for readers. Many crime fiction fans don’t have the time (or perhaps, the motivation) to read a long series. Unless one’s a real admirer of a given author, it’s hard to make that commitment to a long-running series. But a trilogy – only three books! – is easier in terms of the investment of time and reading energy. And it allows the reader to follow some stories-across-stories. For many readers, it’s an effective balance between enjoying an author’s work and making too much of a commitment.

Trilogies do have their drawbacks, of course. For one thing, they can limit both author and publisher. If the main characters in a trilogy really do become popular, ‘fleshed out,’ and of continuing interest to the author and publisher, what happens? Some publishers will agree to a fourth (or fifth, or…) outing in a series. But it can be awkward. It can be a bit confusing, too. For another thing, a trilogy means that the author has to sustain the plot threads and story arcs over three – but only three – novels. That means, in a sense, planning a series, with individual plots, but threads that tie the novels together. Those threads arguably have to be stronger than those that bind a longer series, too, since it’s a trilogy.

What do you think of the trilogy? Do you enjoy story arcs that last over three novels? Or do you prefer longer series, where the characters really evolve over time? Perhaps you prefer standalones? If you’re a writer, have you planned or written a trilogy? How is it different for you to planning a standalone or longer series?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Helplessly Hoping.

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Filed under Carlo Lucarelli, Jean-Claude Izzo, Len Deighton, Malcolm Mackay, Patricia Stoltey, Stefan Tegenfalk, William McIlvanney