When you begin reading a prolific author, it often takes a not inconsiderable amount of time to figure out which book to read first, especially if the books need to be read in order. This isn’t a problem if you want to read, say, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, or James Michener, because their books were not a series; they we written as self-contained, individual works.
But for series, like Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, you need to start with the first one to gain context and understanding for what happens later. And it’s true for one of my favorite series, the Chief Inspector Gamache detective novels by Louise Penny. Read those out of order, and you’ll miss references, background, and key information about characters. (I know that authors do try to address this; my own two novels are a series. And you have to work very hard to make sure you include key developments and character information from the first book to make sure the second one makes sense.)
An individual named Avid Reader has created a reading guide for the Gamanche novels, entitled, appropriately enough, Chief Inspector Gamache Series. It’s not a long treatise on the detective stories, but rather something much more simple (and helpful). It summarizes each of the 12 novels by Penny, includes a list of characters for each, and it does so in the books’ chronological order. And it costs less than a dollar.
I just finished reading the tenth Gamache novel, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to check and double-check to make sure I still had them in the right order. I wish I had had this list two years ago, when I started.
Avid Reader has also created two other series’ summaries – The Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child and the Michael Connelly Series. Like the Gamanche listings, they have been updated for 2017.
So Chief Inspector Gamache fans and would-be fans should take a look at this series summary.