Reading creates a roller-coaster of emotions. If you are strictly a non-fiction reader or a reader of periodicals you probably never have experienced the apprehension that occurs when nearing the end of a really good book of fiction. In a good book you become personally invested in the story, there are characters you really care about, they feel like friends that you have been with through thick and thin. As their story comes to the end you start reading faster…what’s going to happen? Will they survive? Will they realize their dream? And then you remember that the faster you read, the faster this story, that you have loved for 400 pages will be over, done, finished. The End!
So you start to slow down. I’ve even put a book down and done a chore, like the dishes, and then come back and read one more chapter, then went and folded the laundry, and then back for another chapter. Here’s your treat Jeanne, good girl! Of course this only works so long and you slowly come to the end or you just give up and read it all. And there you are. The tale is done, your characters have finished their journey. But you can’t call them in a few days to go to lunch and you can’t “friend” them on Facebook. There will be no headlines in the paper about their harrowing adventure, no obituary in the Times.
This just happened to me twice in one week. I usually have 2 – 3 stories going at once. This past week I happened to be reading Windigo Island, the fourteenth book in the Cork O’Connor series by William Kent Krueger and I was listening to the third book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch.
In the former, Cork O’Connor is a sheriff in a small town in Northern Minnesota. He is part Irish/part Ojibwe so his friends, his cases, his family cross over to the reservation area. We meet his kids, his wife, her family. Over the course of 14 books, his family grows, his job changes, he finally becomes a private investigator and, as in any mystery series, he deals with more murders and unusual cases that any real small town sheriff or PI ever would. There is also a wonderful spiritual aspect to these books because of Cork’s Ojibwe blood. Many times he seeks advice from Henry, a Mide, a spiritual leader in the tribe. There are visions and sweat lodge experiences and ritual. Wondeful stuff. But now I’ve read the last book! Wait, no! These people have been living with me since early 2015 when I read the first book, Iron Lake. Of course back then, when I was nearing the end of one book I quickly looked up the next one and reserved it through the library so it was ready when I finished the current one. That’s the upside of discovering a series that is mostly written. This time there was no next book until recently when I discovered he was writing #15 Manitou Canyon, due out in September. Ah, big sigh of relief.
The other book I finished was End of Watch. Since I came to this trilogy as King was writing it, it took three years before I came to the end and the wait between books is always agonizing. In 2014 King released Mr. Mercedes, a straight up mystery/crime/thriller. It was so good. Frankly, I think Stephen King has been writing some of his best work in the last five years. Anyway, on to 2015 and Finders,Keepers came out. Crime novel, private eye stuff again but with a twist, a Stephen King twist, some woo-woo stuff that I love but damn!!!! I had to wait another year for End of Watch. So here I am in the third year, get the book right after it comes out and I am reading like crazy only…..WAIT. ONE. MINUTE. This has been a three-year love affair with a story and characters and I am about to gulp it down. I slowed a little but all good things must end. This one even brought out a few tears, not because the trilogy was over but because of the story, yes I get very involved with my characters. (no spoilers for you folks, read it!).
So I mourn a little a story ends but then the search is quickly on for another book. Right now I am doing a stand alone, LaRose by Louise Erdrich and I know already I am going to get close to the characters but at least I won’t have to wait for a sequel to finish the story. Hey anyone want to recommend a good series?