Wednesday, September 1, 2010

on why I insist on reading books in the order in which they are written

After making what I hope was my final "deposit" at the library yesterday (I take the books there that Jason doesn't want) I decided to go in and look for books for a change. I was excited to find what I thought was the next book in a series I have been reading for some years.

In 1994, author Laurie R. King wrote The Beekeeper's Apprentice, the story of a young woman who meets, and most improbably, falls in love with a retired Sherlock Holmes. They marry, and she becomes his Watson, traveling the globe with him and helping the master of deductive reasoning solve matters of international intrigue. There have been more hits than misses in the series, and the last book I read was by far my favorite, so I was thrilled to find The God of the Hive on the New Books shelf.

After reading a few pages, I realized that I had clearly missed a book, and that basically the entire plot was based on what happened in that earlier book. I stopped reading. I was torn. Should I start the other book I brought home with me? Should I go back to the library and search the shelves for the missing book? Perhaps I made the wrong decision, but I decided to press on. And that may be why I found this book so confusing for so long, and why, ultimately, I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have.

Part of the problem was the fact that the author starts the story from the points of view of four different characters. Now, that is just too many. Had I not known her style of writing from the previous books, I would have been utterly lost. As it was, I struggled to to keep things straight, and I don't enjoy that. I did settle into the book about halfway through, but I don't know if that was through my efforts or the author's.

Through the many references to the previous book, I believe I already know the "surprise" ending, so I probably won't be adding it to my reading list. Like all mystery readers, I prefer to solve the mystery on my own. What's the fun of it if I already know?

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