Ode to the Series

Posted on | July 1, 2010 | 2 Comments

The first series books I remember reading were Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. I didn’t know they were classified as series books at the time ( I was only 7 when I started) I just knew that when I finished the first one, there was another one about the very same people – or in this case, horse – and I wanted to keep reading. And I did, the first thirteen of them at least, until boys came along and teen-age angst set in and Ayn Rand and Lawrence Ferlinghetti replaced The Black Stallion’s Sulky Colt on my bookshelf.

And then it wasn’t until I was in my late-twenties that I discovered there were series books for adults. My good friend Tom Atkins (who I just included as a character in my upcoming novel Love Bites) loaned me a “Spenser” novel and I was hooked. And delighted to find out that Robert B. Parker had written, at that time, not one book with Spenser as the lead character but several. He would go on to write a total of 40 and then add to that the Jesse Stone series, the Sunny Randall series, and more. I was hooked. On Spencer and on series novels, most of them detective novels or legal thrillers or medical mysteries, all of them having one thing in common: a recurring lead character.

These guys, and in some cases girls, (Julie Smith’s Skip Langdon and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone) are as well-known to me as members of my family and I enjoy being in their company just as much. I go into withdrawal without Jack Reacher, Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers, Elvis Cole, Doc Ford, Myron Bolitar, and a whole bunch of others. I wouldn’t recognize most A-list Hollywood actors at a party, but I’d know John Sandford and Henning Mankell in a flash.

I was in the middle of taking a Japanese final when my teacher announced, in halting English, that Robert B. Parker had died. We both broke down and cried.


  1. Joe Maddrey
    September 19th, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    Dear Adrienne,

    It was a thrill to speak with you earlier today at your Bookstar signing. I’m looking forward to reading “Love Bites” (and excited to hear that Tom Atkins is a character in it!). I hope to see you again next weekend at Dark Delicacies.

    Very best wishes,
    Joe Maddrey

  2. alan tirotta
    November 5th, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    Dear Ms. Barbeau;
    I just happened upon your website by accident today as I am “technologically challenged”(my childrens term). I have been a long time fan and the mere mention of your name still makes my Armenian wife of 26 years jealous!! Your beauty has aged like a Rothschild wine and i will continue to look forward to seeing you on stage and screen. Respectfully: Alan Tirotta, Brooklyn NY