It’s a question I see asked quite frequently of an author who’s releasing a book that’s part of a series. “Does this book stand alone?”
The funny thing about that is the author is probably the worst possible person to ask that question of. I’m going to go ahead and use myself as an example because No Surrender (releasing August 11th, just so you don’t forget *g*) is the third book in the Devlin Group series.
I can’t tell you if NO SURRENDER stands alone. I think it does. I tried. But my immersion in the series is so complete it’s fairly impossible for me to separate the third book from the other two.
My editor might be a better judge but, because she’s very thorough, her familiarity’s going to be almost as complete as mine. Probably the first unbiased judge of standing alone is the final line editor. I remember two distinct references to something that occured in the first two books, and she questioned one from 72 Hours.
I think the change I made was subtle: changing “thing” to “mission” or something like that. It didn’t expound on the situation from the first book other than to make it more clear it was a previous job because one of my personal pet peeves reading series is dialogue expounding in great detail on an event both characters were present for. And, as a reader, I know if I jump in on a series, there are going to be references to previous books I might not get if I haven’t read them.
There’s also investment in the characters. Carmen plays a small role in 72 Hours and she’s only mentioned in On the Edge, but Gallagher plays a big role in both so you get to know him a little better if you’ve followed along.
That being said, I think NO SURRENDER stands alone pretty well. But I also think you might enjoy it more if you’ve read the first two books in the series, honestly. (So you should go buy them right now.) (See, another reason the author’s not the best person to ask.)
I’m also a bad person to ask in general because I can’t jump into a series. I can’t tell you how many books I have lying around waiting for me to hunt down the backlist titles in the series. How about you? Do you jump into a series if a book releasing grabs your interest or do you have to read a series in order?