“One of the most interesting aspects of [Sir John] Appelby is the way in which he ages and matures so that readers who fall under his spell can have the satisfaction of vicariously living his life. ….no other detective writer has produced for his hero such a well-documented life. … most of us with a serial hero are content to take refuge in the fashionable illusion that our detectives are immutably fixed in the first age we assigned to them….” So says PD James in Talking About Detective Fiction (Knopf 2009, p. 55) about Michael Innes’s detective and “most of us”, which I suppose includes me.
But of course it doesn’t. And here’s why that passage jumped out at me. It never occurred to me not to age my “serial detective”(s), i.e., Owen Archer and Lucie Wilton. Even with Margaret Kerr, though her story (so far) takes place in a short stretch of time in time, she does mature. I enjoy moving my characters along through time, showing how they absorb their experiences. My fascination with crime fiction is largely about the wake that a crime creates in its path, disturbing the community, unearthing the secrets of many who have no direct connection with the crime. So I’m also interested in how my sleuths are changed by what they learn about life, human nature, the nature of evil. And I enjoy that about the series I read.
How about you?