Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mystery Series Vs. Stand Alone Novels

Jacqueline Seewald 

This week, we have author Jacqueline Seewald with us talking about the advantages and the disadvantages of writing a mystery series versus stand alone novels.

The Mystery Series:

Readers enjoy a consistency of setting in a series. They like knowing what to expect. The setting should be one the author is familiar with, whether it be a city he/she has lived in, a rural community, an exotic place visited, or an historic location that has been researched in detail. This lends authenticity to the novel. For instance, in THE BAD WIFE, 4th novel in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, the novel is set in Central N.J. where I lived for forty years. Each novel in the series has a different setting, whether it be the university or an apartment complex, but the town itself is the same.

Readers also like a consistency in the main characters. In THE BAD WIFE, Kim Reynolds and homicide detective Mike Gardner return to solve another set of murders. They are joined by woman of color, police detective Bert St. Croix. The three main characters are very different in personality and background but each lends something unique to the novels.

In mysteries, people are not as they would appear and so there is an element of disillusionment. I believe that plot is a crucial factor in the mystery novel or any series. In the Kim Reynolds series, there are connected murders that need to be solved. The main characters can become personally involved as in THE BAD WIFE when the woman Mike believed he’d been divorced from returns to wreak havoc in the lives of Mike and Kim. When Mike is accused of murder, Kim and Bert work together to save him and find the real killer.

In regard to characterization, the protagonists are like real people with their lives changing and their characters developing. Ideally, in a mystery series the main characters in the novels are not static but yet remain true to their essential natures. There are more series mysteries today than ever.

The Stand Alone Mystery:

The big advantage of the stand alone mystery is that it’s original and unique, a one of a kind book. Many are in the romantic suspense genre. By this I mean that the romance is so important that it may overshadow the mystery. However, my novel DEATH LEGACY is actually a romantic mystery. By this I mean that there is a strong romance between the two main characters, Michelle Hallam who runs an unusual “consulting firm” and Daniel Reiner, a NYC psychiatrist who joins forces with his mystery woman to solve a murder case involving international espionage; however, the mystery itself is of equal significance. This is also a suspense thriller since the lives of the main characters/sleuths are in constant jeopardy.

As a reader, which type of mystery do you prefer? Why?


A multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Fifteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including: THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL, THE TRUTH SLEUTH, DEATH LEGACY and THE THIRD EYE. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as THE WRITER, L.A. TIMES, PEDESTAL, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE, OVER MY DEAD BODY!, GUMSHOE REVIEW, THE MYSTERY MEGAPACK, LIBRARY JOURNAL, and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
The 4th novel in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, THE BAD WIFE, was published by Perfect Crime Books and is currently available both in print and as an e-book from Amazon at:

Jacqueline Seewald’s novel DEATH LEGACY, critically acclaimed by BOOKLIST and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY among others, is still available in print from Five Star/Gale/Cengage in hardcover and Thorndike Press hardcover large print. The Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition is sold out and is no longer available.
However, a new e-book edition of DEATH LEGACY has just been published by The Novel Fox. You can check it out on Amazon:
Also available from Kobo, Apple, or Google.

This romantic mystery suspense thriller received excellent reviews in hardcover edition from Publishers Weekly and Booklist among others. The Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition sold out in just a few months. To read a free partial of the novel, go to:

Jacqueline is giving away a paper copy of Death Legacy to one lucky person (US readers only) who leaves a comment.

And the winner is Kim Herron! Congratulations!