You can break up the order with these series titles

You can break up the order with these series titles

I am a firm proponent of reading books by the same author in the order in which they were written. Maybe it's a little OCD, but I just think that it's the way things should be done. I like to witness the natural progression of a bigger picture.

So that's why I'm confused. Because now I've messed things up.

Somehow I ended up bringing home two books that are a part of a series but were not the first ones in that series.

I have been known to complain about authors who write nothing but long series that are hot on the best-seller lists. The problem is, once I get around to wanting to read them, I can't read the most recent release because it's No. 14 in the series, and I don't want to have to go back and read all 13 that came before just to read this one best-seller. I'm not trying to be lazy; I just have stacks and stacks of books to read, and I simply don't have the necessary time to get all of this done. Hear that, James Patterson, Sue Grafton and Clive Cussler?

So, anyway, a co-worker who was tired of my complaining recommended some authors that write series that can be read midstream, so to speak.

Ace Atkins was an Edgar Award-nominated author in his own right before being chosen to take over writing the Spenser series when Robert B. Parker died. So the series that he already was writing features the mishaps of Quinn Colson, an Afghanistan veteran who is a county sheriff in rural northern Mississippi.

I read "The Broken Places," the third book in the series, and I was able to follow the story line just fine. Any important information about Quinn's character from previous books was repeated so that the new reader was easily able to grasp his history, personality and value system.

Quinn is a tough, no-nonsense guy with a mom living nearby, a sister with a shaky past, and a lost love who got away. In this story, his sister Caddy has hooked up with Jamey Dixon, an ex-con who was formally pardoned by the governor and released from prison. Jamey has apparently found religion and works hard to open his own church of redemption and prove to the town that he's become a better man.

Oddly enough, there is suddenly a prison break and three men escape and arrive in town as well. These men hide out in a hunting lodge in the woods and repeatedly visit Jamey and Caddy asking for their share of some money that had been hidden outside of town for the last 10 years.

Quinn has a couple of problems on his hands. These escaped convicts are dangerous men who have already killed several people. There may be a connection between the men, Jamey and a bank heist from 10 years ago. His sister is planning a life with this man with a violent past who claims that he's changed.

And to top it off, Quinn still pines for the woman he lost, is the subject of the town's rumor mill and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his years in the Middle East. He's a great character full of vulnerability that I'm looking forward to reading more about.

Multiple-award-winning author William Kent Krueger writes of life in northern Minnesota in his series featuring Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor, a former Chicago cop and currently the ex-sheriff in Aurora, Minn.

Cork has seen a lot of things in his life. Growing up in Aurora near the Ojibwe Native American reservation, he's met people from all walks of life.

In "Trickster's Point", the 12th book in this series, I learned about the reservation, small-town life in Minnesota, and the dogged pursuit of justice and truth carried out by Cork. Although he's no longer the sheriff, he's still around providing guidance and opinions to anyone who will listen.

The story opens full of quiet dramatic tension. Cork is sitting by a large rock in the middle of nowhere with his childhood friend, who is dying. The thing is, he's dying from a puncture from an arrow that looks like it belongs to Cork, and his friend just happens to be the man who is favored to become the first Native American elected governor of Minnesota.

Eventually the police want to know why Cork's arrow was the murder weapon and why he sat by the victim's side for three hours without calling for help.

Determined to clear his name, Cork starts his own investigation into the killing and in doing so remembers the man who used to be one of his best friends.

The description of the setting is beautifully written, and the storyline compels the reader to stay close to Cork to learn more about the characters and their motivations. If you've enjoyed books by Tony Hillerman or James D. Doss, you may like this author as well. And if you're a purist and want to start at Krueger's book number-one, then pick up a copy of "Iron Lake" to begin your journey with Cork O'Connor and Aurora, Minn.

I was surprised at how easy it was to pick up the storyline in these novels further along in the series list, but it still made me want to go back and read from the beginning!

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

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