It’s fascinating to watch what some of our most popular novelists are doing. Michael Connelly and Daniel Silva have been aging their heroes (Harry Bosch, John Corey, and Gabriel Allon) in real time. In other words, Harry is now facing retirement while Gabriel has been booted into an office job heading Israeli intelligence. John Corey also is aging, although not quite as fast.
It’s a wonderful thing for an author to have a recurring hero that readers love so much that they just want more and more of him. The problem is that even though the authors want to move on and explore new characters and situations, their readers refuse to move on. Also, their publishers see gold in the characters and demand they appear again and again.
You sense a certain degree of weariness in Daniel Silva with his latest novel, The English Spy. Allen seems weary. Several times other characters ask the Israeli agent if he’s up to the challenge. He heard the same questions in the previous novel, The Heist. Silva says he has ideas for other heroes, but his public won’t let him move in that direction. Connelly splits the difference right now by alternating books on Harry Bosch with books on Bosch’s half-brother, the Lincoln Lawyer. DeMille’s latest book features ex-cop John Corey one more time, but the book lacks the fire and wit of earlier Corey appearances. In fact, The Lion, the very first Corey novel, remains DeMille’s best Corey novel.
So, many authors would kill to have a beloved character that virtually guarantees a place on the New York Times bestseller list. Still, it’s very much like a singer who keeps getting asked to sing a song he has learned to hate because he’s sung it so very often. Of course, while I struggle to get the word out on my upcoming sequel, A Bullet for the Ghost Whisperer, it is very hard not to ask God to give my book and character enough success that the public will demand several more in the series.