Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Each installment of Lauren’s hit mystery series, starting with It’s Murder, My Son which was released in June 2010, has made the best-seller’s list on Amazon. Twelve to Murder, the seventh Mac Faraday mystery, was released in February. The eighth installment, A Wedding and A Killing, will be released in September.
Also receiving rave reviews, Dead on Ice, released September 2012, introduced a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. Real Murder is the second installment in this series. The third installment will be released June 2015.
Okay, first, let me state that I am not a rebel. Yes, I have been known to go against the masses on more than one occasion. Witnesses will testify that I have been seen wearing white after Labor Day. But, generally, I have never been a nonconformist.
When I was a teenager, my rebellious streak lasted less than twenty-four hours. I came home after curfew. My mother made it very clear that she was not going to let any unruly adolescent get the best of her. For a week, she withheld hot fudge sauce from my ice cream sundae. (It’s a miracle I didn’t end up in therapy!) In no time, I was back on the straight and narrow—never to buck the system again.
But there are just certain things about which I refuse to conform.
Last week, I got yet another one of those emails asking me for the order of my mystery books. The reader insisted that she had to read them in the order in which they were written. At the same time, another reader posted a review saying that it was maddening trying to figure out the order of my series and I should number my books.
The fact is that the Mac Faraday Mysteries and the Lovers in Crime Mysteries are written as stand-alones. Even though both series have continuing characters, who sometimes cross over into the other series for a “guest appearance,” they do not need to be read in any particular order. The reader easily picks up on what is happening with the main characters. Reviewers have even stated this.
Yet, I am regularly surprised by readers asking for the order of my murder mysteries, or even insisting that I should number each book so that they can be read in order.
Maybe I’ve gotten rowdier with menopause, but I refuse to number my books.
I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. (Did I mention in a post once that I had a crush on Joe Hardy?) Then I moved on to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason. All of these are series and none of these books are numbered. James Patterson, Elizabeth George, Lisa Gardner, and Tess Gerritsen don’t number the books in their series.
So, when I created the Mac Faraday Mysteries and the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, including the number that the book appears in the series never occurred to me. Like those mystery authors I adore, my books don’t have a series arc in the storyline that makes it necessary for the reader to read the books in order. There’s no cliffhanger at the end of one book that forces the reader to go on to the next book for the resolution. Sorry, readers, there’s no serial killer stalking Mac from one mystery to the other. The murder case begins and ends all in one book. All issues between the continuing characters get taken care of within the same book.
I don’t do this because I believe in being kind to my readers. It is purely for selfish reasons. I hate series arcs. It’s the realist in me. When I finish a mystery that ends with the serial killer stalking the protagonist or his family, planning to make his move in the next book, I feel like drowning my kindle in the bathtub.
What if I get hit by a train next week before the author releases the next book? Or worse, what if the author gets hit by a train and never finishes writing the next book? Then everyone is left hanging not knowing if the serial killer is going to kidnap, torture, and dismember the hero or not.
But, in spite of my objections, some readers have insisted from the beginning that they need to know the order of my books. They are always very kind about it. Many will outright admit that they are obsessive compulsive. (Last week, our dog trainer told us that Gnarly is obsessive-compulsive. I guess that means if he could read, he’d insist on having a list of my books in order.)
The need for many readers to know the order of my books came to my attention at the first book signing event for Old Loves Die Hard, the second book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries.
To my surprise, everyone was buying It’s Murder, My Son, the first book in the series, while Old Loves Die Hard, the new release, sat there like a reject. I couldn’t understand why no one wanted the newest book in the series. It was getting great reviews. Time and again I was told, “I want the first book in the series.”
“But they are written as stand alones,” I would object.
“I need to read the first one first,” would be the reply.
So I would sign It’s Murder, My Son and send them away.
By the end of the day, I was frustrated. Yes, I was selling books, but I had only sold a couple copies of my later book while my first one was selling like hot cakes. Maybe I got a little pushy when an older woman asked me to sign It’s Murder, My Son for her. I may have been a little firm when I told her that my books are stand alones.
“There’s no continuing drama or cliffhangers. You do not have to read them in order. Here!” I shoved Old Loves Die Hard in her direction. “This is my latest. Read it. You’ll see for yourself that the mystery is a stand alone. In no way are you going to be lost reading them out of order.”
To this, the woman placed her hands on her hips and shot me a glare. “All of you authors say that about your books and you’re all lying!”
So I sold her It’s Murder, My Son.
But I still refuse to number my books.
Maybe if you take away my hot fudge, I’ll think about it.
So, here they are. The number next to the book title is the number for the order in which it was written. Dead on Ice (Lovers in Crime Mystery) was written after Shades of Murder (Mac Faraday Mystery), which introduced the Lovers in Crime characters. So, if you need to read them in order, you will want to read Shades of Murder before you read Dead on Ice, followed by the latest Lovers in Crime, Real Murder (released May 28).
Joshua Thornton Mysteries:
Joshua Thornton is half of the Lovers in Crime. The Joshua Thornton Mysteries take place approximately six years before he meets Homicide Detective Cameron Gates in Shades of Murder.
The two books in this series were written many years ago–at a different time in my life. They are heavier and contain a different tone with less humor than my newer books.
1) A Small Case of Murder
2) A Reunion to Die For
Mac Faraday Mysteries:
3) It’s Murder, My Son
4) Old Loves Die Hard
5) Shades of Murder (introduces the Lovers in Crime: Joshua Thornton & Cameron Gates)
7) Blast from the Past
8) The Murders at Astaire Castle
9) The Lady Who Cried Murder (The Lovers in Crime make a guest appearance as newlyweds in this book. Order-wise, you may want to read this after Dead on Ice and before Real Murder.)
10) Twelve to Murder
12) A Wedding and a Killing (September 2014)
Lovers in Crime Mysteries:
6) Dead on Ice
11) Real Murder (June 2014)
When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”
Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.
Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.
It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.
Watch the trailer here.