Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The Last First Time by Andy Scheer
I'm a third of the way through a novel I yearn--and dread--to read.
I recently saw on Aaron Elkins's website that Dying on the Vine will be the final book in his Gideon Oliver series. I started reading them soon after he launched the career of the “skeleton detective” with Fellowship of Fear—back in 1982.
Long before Bones or the Bug Man, Elkins was using his background as a physical anthropologist to craft classic mysteries—with clues in the bones themselves pointing to the victim's identity and the cause of death.
After seventeen novels, Elkins has announced Oliver's retirement. He's had a good career. I hope Elkins will continue to craft freestanding novels--or add to his other series. I know I'll re-read Dying on the Vine, just as I've re-read all the previous tales.
But I'll never have another chance to accompany one of Oliver's stories for the first time—unsure whether I've found a clue or been distracted by a red herring. As much as I'll enjoy a return trip, I'll never again experience the same anticipation.
I'm loving Dying on the Vine, set in and around a vineyard in Tuscany. But I'm already missing Dr. Oliver, his wife, Julie, and how Elkins conveys the flavor of exotic places with detailed descriptions of food and drink.
I know even successful series have to end. Jack Aubrey, Travis McGee, and Stuart Brannon have all taken their last ride. And Kinsey Millhone is approaching the end of the alphabet.
But I think it's better not to know, before reading, if a book is the end of the line.