I don't read a mystery series simply for the mystery. I read it for the characters I have come to know and love over the years. Amelia Peabody and Ramses, Mrs. Pollifax, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, Peter Wimsey, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. I check into a book to see how everyone is doing, what they are up to now, what new adventure they will embark on.
I have recently come upon a new group of bookfriends; those characters who inhabit the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. I've read Paper Doll, 1993; Cold Service, 2005; and Back Story, 2003. These were all unabridged audio books, with great narration, one by Michael Prichard, the voice of Archie in the Rex Stout books, and the others by Joe Mantegna. I just borrowed the first in the series, The Godwulf Manuscript, from the library. I'm excited to have so many ahead of me to read. I think I'll probably have a Spenser book going all the time till I finish. Then I'll move onto Parker's other series, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall. I know that Les is a SR fan.
Parker has already done something I absolutely love. In Back Story, Spenser of the Spenser series works on a case with Jesse Stone of the Jesse Stone series. And I think I read that Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall get together in one of their series. What fun for this reader.
Spenser is the private detective, Susan, his girlfriend, and Hawk, his friend with a criminal past. I like the steadying presence of Susan, who is a psychologist. I like how he tells her what is going on. From the three books I've read, it seems to be a relationship of equals. They each bring a strength to the couple. Hawk is very intelligent, and he and Spenser have great verbal exchanges. Hawk reminds me a little of Sawyer on LOST, a "bad" guy who is a reader with a great wit. Dogs and food are ever present as well, adding to my enjoyment of the books.
Robert B. Parker has his own wonderful, up-to-date blog. And there is a terrific website devoted to the books.