Surprising in what way? Surprising that I liked it? If I’m not enjoying a book, I don’t keep reading. My TBR piles are way too tall for me to waste time on a book that isn’t holding my attention.
As a mystery author, I always worry about whether I’ve left too many clues or not enough clues for readers to figure out whodunit. I know who the killer is, but I don’t want my readers to know until they reach the book’s climax. At that point I want them to slap their heads and say, “Of course! Why didn’t I figure that out sooner?” It’s a delicate balancing act, and I’ve found that although I have managed to pull it off with most readers, there are always those who figure out whodunit way too soon.
I once read a debut book by an author who was receiving platinum promo from her publisher. She was being hyped as the next big star in her genre, and because of all the publicity, she has had a very successful career since that first book. However, I figured out whodunit less than a third of the way into the book. For the remainder of the book, I kept hoping she’d thrown me a red herring and would surprise me in the end. She didn’t. Worse yet, I wasn’t able to suspend disbelief over her “hiding in plain sight” denouement. I’ve never read another book by this author. No matter. I doubt her income is suffering because of it.
As it turns out, I’m one of those readers who usually figures out whodunit way too soon. I want to be able to slap my own head. Unfortunately, I rarely do, but I did awhile ago with two outstanding books: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard and City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin.
In Pickard’s book, the killer made perfect sense, yet she kept me guessing, never suspecting the one person who actually committed the murders. Franklin’s book contains a twist at the end that is brilliant. I’m not going to say more about either book because I don’t want to let loose with any spoilers. Let’s just say that I highly recommend both books and don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Lois Winston recently finished the third book in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Death by Killer Mop Doll will be a January 2012 release. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.