Where is the Overall Story Arc in a Crime Series?

Posted April 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

One thing that annoys me about reading a crime series is the lack of an overall story arc. I’m not saying that this is the case with all book series but it seems to be for the majority of them. Within crime fiction especially, the overall story arc is often very basic and often feels like a crime of the week format. This isn’t the case with romance, science fiction and fantasy they are more likely to have a continuous story line and have huge success with it.

When I read a series it is more than often a crime series and I wish the ‘new novel, new crime’ wasn’t the norm. When I watch TV, I often enjoy a series with an ongoing story; Veronica Mars is a prime example on television of what I want in a crime novel. A case that needs to be solved in every book but a bigger mystery that lasts over a couple of novels. Why can’t they do that in a novel series? I know a book is a bigger investment but I often read one book in a series and never continue because there is nothing to keep me reading.

The problem is that everything seems to be a series at the moment; I like the idea of returning to a great character but I need more. I like hard-boiled and noir crime novels but I find myself reading them less and less. I don’t want to read a series if there is nothing to keep me reading. A character has to be amazing to keep me reading, or they could just give me an unanswered mystery. Does anyone know of a good crime series that develops characters over a long period of time and also has an overall story arc?  Let me know. I wish I could write, I have been developing a concept in my head but I have no idea how to put it onto a page.

2 responses to “Where is the Overall Story Arc in a Crime Series?

  1. Mary MK

    In the Stephanie plum series, part of the overall story arc is about steph’s personal life. It’s not really an overall mystery but part of the reason to return is to find out about her love life. Except eventually you realise that her personal life never really progresses that far in over 20 books and give up.
    I don’t think i have read many other crime series.

    • Michael @ Literary Exploration

      Is it an overall story arc if it goes no where? At least that kept you reading for 20 books, more than most crime novels do

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