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I was talking to my sister tonight about my strong feeling regarding character development in mysteries.  One of the reasons I enjoy series mysteries rather than stand alone books is that I like to follow the heroine/hero from the beginning of the series to the latest book. When I pick up a book that has had several before it in a series, I feel as if I’m coming into a movie in the middle and there’s lots of back story I should know but don’t.

For some reason this is more important to me in books with female protagonists.  Not knowing the histories of Elvis Cole, Travis McGee, or Spenser is mildly annoying but doesn’t impact on my admiration for the authors’ works.  But I feel differently about female characters.  I want to know everything about them–where they were born, who their family is, why they’ve remained single or have been married four times.  Is this because I’m a woman and identify more with female characters?  Is it that women (warning:  big generalization follows) are more open about their lives than men?

I don’t know the answer, but in starting this blog I realize that my favorite women characters are those I know the most about–V. I. Warshawski, Kinsey Milhone, Deborah Knott, among others, which I something I’d never thought about before.  But with male detectives, this doesn’t seem to matter much.

Does the back story matter to you?  Or am I the only one who cares?


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