KILLING MAJOR CHARACTERS - I DID IT - I RECOMMEND IT

In SHANGHAIED, the fourth book of my Ray Sharp series, I killed Ray Sharp himself. Really killed him. He isn't coming back. (I killed him in the first person, present tense, halfway through the book.) The narration is taken over by his sidekick, Wen Lei Yue. She will take over the series for at least the next two books. You can read about my reasons here: http://www.ericstone.com/blog.html

I'm considering writing a couple of prequels - books based on true stories that took place chronologically before I killed Ray. How do people feel about prequels?

Do you know of any other series in which the author has killed the series character and not in some way brought them back later? Or brought them back only through prequels?

I couldn't help myself. I had to do it. I'm curious as to what people think of it, and think of my reasons for doing so (as expressed in my blog).

And, what should authors of long running series do to shake them up, to make them fresh? Couldn't Spenser or Kinsey Milhorne use some sort of cataclysmic upheaval in their lives at this point?

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Eric, in my fourth mystery, Gator Creek (2010 release), I kill off a major character, but not my protagonist. I think you may be the first I'm aware of who knocked off the protag. Interesting, indeed.
I am having to write a sequel to the spy book I just wrote, and I find series unnatural from a writing standpoint. Since the days of the Greek Chorus, a story has a beginning, middle and end during which the protagonist overcomes some flaw and walks off into the sunset, essentially perfect. So I feel you have to mix in new characters with new flaws. To make roster space, killing some off works. I know it's the right time, aside from story exigencies, when they cease to serve a dramatic function. It's also make for a good jolt for the reader.
True enough, though in a series you have two story lines. One is the the book in question, the other a much wider arc of the protagonist's life. But a change in the less important "regulars" is a good and natural thing.
I should add that much of my fan mail really concerns the person of my potagonist. At this point, he must go on. Somehow.

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