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J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

I’m diverging a bit today from my usual recommendation to celebrate the incredible saga of J.K. Rowling’s fiction career … justified even more because, as you’ll see, she is already 3 books into a crime series of her own.

Monday was the 20th Anniversary of publication in Great Britain of first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published in September in the U.S. under the name, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s the 5th best-selling book of all time, selling an astounding 107 million copies.

The Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series of all time, and the other 6 books in the Harry Potter series have each sold between 50–100 million copies.

“The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly 11 Million copies in the United States within 24 hours of its release.” Wikipedia

Incredibly …

“The original seven books were adapted into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, which has become the second highest-grossing film series of all time as of August 2015.

“In 2016, the total value of the Harry Potter franchise was estimated at $25 billion, making Harry Potter one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.” Wikipedia

Like many of you, I’ve been intrigued by her story and how she tediously and laboriously plotted the entire series:

“Jo conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.” JKR Website

Her output is prodigious as she has followed the Harry Potter series with not only the film adaptation of the books, but …

  • 2 books based on the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels,
  • a novel for adults being adapted for TV by the BBC, and a 3-book (so far) crime series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike (with another BBC series underway),
  • an original new story for the stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two is now running at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End,
  • her screenwriting debut with the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the Wizarding World, marking the start of a five-film series to be written by the author.

Whew.

By any measure, an incredible story of achievement that few authors can even image.

Way to go, Jo!

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G-Man by Stephen Hunter

G-Man by Stephen Hunter

Finally, my ol’ buddy, Bob Lee “the Nailer” Swagger is back in the 10th novel in this series from Stephen Hunter, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. In this the latest episode in the Bob Lee Swagger saga, Bob Lee is uncovering his family’s secret tommy gun war with 1930s gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.

In G-Man, Swagger is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and the most heralded sniper in Marine Corp history. Interestingly, his fictional character is loosely based on USMC Scout Sniper Carlos Hathcock.

Hathcock’s record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather, for the nickname “White Feather” given to Hathcock by the North Vietnamese Army. Wikipedia.

Bob Lee is the main character in the movie, Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg. The stories of Bob Lee have also become a an excellent TV series by the same name starring Ryan Phillippe, which I’m happy to say is returning in July for a 2nd season on USA Network.

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Testimony by Scott Turow

Testimony by Scott Turow

It takes a talented writer like Scott Turow to tackle the theme of the Bosnian War.

In Testimony, his character, Bill ten Boom, … yes, that name is correct … investigates the murder of 400 members of a Gypsy refugee camp that has been brought before the International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands.

“Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped to examine the disappearance of an entire Gypsy refugee camp—unsolved for ten years—he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career.

While it’s obviously a fictional account, the story also educates us about a war that most people know very little about. Good stuff from Turow … as always!

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True Evil by Greg Iles

True Evil by Greg Iles

Just over one month ago, I said that if you’re hankering for something to read … maybe to carry you into summer and beyond … you should tackle the Penn Cage series from Greg Iles starting with the first book,, The Quiet Game. I had just finished the 6th novel in the Penn Cage series, Mississippi Blood, and the final book in the Natchez Trilogy (which comprises Book #s 4–6) arrived and it is absolutely fabulous.

Now, Iles has published his latest thriller, True Evil. It takes place in the same area of Natchez, Mississippi, with only a passing reference to some of the characters Iles identified in his Penn Cage series … except for Dr. Chris Sheppard who is the partner of Dr. Cage, Penn Cage’s father.

You’ll thank me for introducing you to Greg Iles if you haven’t already found him, and this book is no exception. An outstanding series and author … and I don’t say that about too many of the hundreds of writers I’ve read in this genre.

“Dr. Chris Shepard has never seen his new patient before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face knows him all too well. An FBI agent working undercover, Alex Morse has come to Dr. Shepard’s office in Natchez, Mississippi, to unmask a killer. A local divorce attorney has a cluster of clients whose spouses have all died under mysterious circumstances. Agent Morse’s own brother-in-law was one of those clients, and now her beloved sister is dead. Then comes Morse’s bombshell: Dr. Shepard’s own beautiful wife consulted this lawyer one week ago, a visit Shepard knew nothing about. Will he help Alex Morse catch a killer? Or is he the next one to fall victim to a deadly trap of sex, lies, and murder?”

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Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane, famous for his books like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island which were made into movies, has now published his 10th novel, Since We Fell.

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.” Amazon

It takes a little time to get into it but it picks up speed when Rachel discovers what she’s really dealing with. It’s not my favorite Lehane novel, but if you like more psychological tension in your novels, this is for you.

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