My definition of book bliss? Cosying up with a character as familiar as an old friend and picking up where the last book left off. Here, seven of our favourite book series — but consider yourself forewarned: they’re addictive. Series-ously.
Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Series
You might say Donna Leon has a deadly fascination with Venice. This gem of a series features Venetian policeman Commissario Guido Brunetti, that rare breed in a fictional detective: cultured, humble, honest, with a sleuthing style that relies less on forensics than good old-fashioned reasoning and intuition. Leon, 75, a transplanted American who lived in Venice for 30 years, gives a colourful insider view of La Serenissima in all its blissful and not-so-blissful aspects — so much so, you might feel a bit like an ex-pat yourself! To date, Leon has penned 27 books in the series, the most recent being The Temptation of Forgiveness, which will be released on March 20, 2018.
George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones Historical Fantasy Series
For legions of die-hard fans, the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s epic historical fantasy series –inspiration for HBO’s blockbuster TV show – has been painfully slow in the making. In fact, it’s been, count them, seven years of waiting for The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the planned seven-novel series, but it’s anticipated to come out sometime this year. (Unless … it doesn’t. Word has it that George R.R. Martin, who has described himself as an exceptionally slow writer, is working on several projects simultaneously, including the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series.)
If you’re just getting started, here are the books you need to pick up (in order):
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast of Crows
A Dance with Dragons
Georges Simenon’s Inspector Jules Maigret Detective Series
Belgian-born author Georges Simenon once said in an interview that the Maigret books didn’t represent his “real writing.” Real or not, they certainly launched an impressive career. The 76 novels and 28 stories about the Parisian detective, published between 1931 and 1972, not only gave Simenon almost instant bestseller status but created a cult following that continues to this day with a number of adaptations for film, television and radio. Through the gruff but intuitive Commissaire Jules Maigret, Simenon explores the psychology of murder and what drives people to commit heinous acts, often expressing empathy for the criminals.
As a side bar — while Maigret is, of course, fictional, apparently the character was heavily influenced by Simenon’s long time close friend, Chief Inspector Marcel Guillaume who is said to be the greatest French detective of his day.
Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee Crime/Mystery Series
Well-trained in martial arts, Ava Lee is a petite but fearless (read seriously badass) Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who specializes in recovering massive debts, the kind that require “untraditional” methods to do so. (Cue aforementioned martial arts.) Partnering with “Uncle” who lives in Hong Kong, she routinely finds herself entangled in webs of corruption extending to the top echelons of power across the globe.
To date, all eleven Ava Lee books have been optioned for film and television, with the first of the series, The Water Rat, scheduled to go into production in the fall of 2018. Hamilton is also contracted to write a new series based on Uncle, one of the most popular characters in the Ava Lee books.
Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon Spy Series
Gabriel Allon isn’t your usual spy. As Mossad chief, not only is he a master keeper of secrets, but he’s also a world-renowned master art restorer (who has on occasion worked closely with no less than the Pope). The bestselling series, now 19 books in, is built around story lines that could very well be pulled from your news feed, including timely threats from ISIS, Iran and Russia. Last year, it was announced that MGM Television, with Silva’s participation, is creating a series featuring the Israeli spy.
P.D. James’ The Adam Dalgliesh Scotland Yard Detective Series
If you haven’t yet picked up this series from the late, great “Queen of Crime,” do so immediately. The books, 14 in all — with the first being James’ 1962 Cover Her Face — feature the cerebral, poetry-writing Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh, who with his tall good looks has been dubbed the Mr. Darcy of detectives.
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels
The epic four-part series by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante (who famously insists on writing under a pseudonym) is an in-depth exploration of a friendship between two women over time, and their attempts to make a life for themselves within a violent, impoverished and male-dominated culture. The books, which received best-seller status among English readers since the translation of the first volume My Brilliant Friend in 2012, also include The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015).
Ferrante, who claims anonymity is crucial to her writing process, was controversially outed by an Italian investigative journalist in 2016, causing backlash against the reporter among her supporters. While there is no word yet on a fifth book in the series, Ferrante is reportedly working on the screenplay for a television series based on the Neapolitan novels, which will air on HBO and the Italian broadcaster RAI.