In one of her comments, Linda mentioned something that really got me thinking.
“Something I don’t like is when a prologue or the inside cover preview gives too much away. I like a suspense as to who is going to get murdered and most front cover book reviews will give that away!”
I have to admit that I have been known to skip to the end of a mystery book once or twice – or a lot of times! Most of the time it is just to see if the author has been so obvious about the culprit, which I am not at all crazy about. (Yes, I know I just wrote about dropping a new-to-me author because she made it too obvious who the murderer was – almost from the very beginning of the mystery book…)
But, I have also gotten antsy about who committed the murder, and taken a peek at the end of the book. As for seeing who the victim is before actually reading the book, this doesn’t bother me. In fact, I sometimes read the inside cover just to find out who the body on the floor will be! (That way I know not to get too attached to that special someone!)
I have been pondering Linda’s comment for a while. (Thanks, Linda!) How do you all feel about the publisher making you aware of who will be “getting the ax” before you actually read the book?
I usually prefer to be surprised by both the victim and the murderer – but finding out who the victim is in advance won’t stop me from reading the story. However, knowing who the killer is in advance definitely would spoil the whole point of “the mystery.”
Not just the victim in the story but other spoilers too. I remember reading the back of a recent book in a series and seeing that a character’s ex-husband died. Like WOAH! Thanks for ruining the surprise on that one!
Maria (BearMountainBooks) says
Oh, I hate it when the cover flap gives too much away. I don’t want to know the victim or the murderer of course. Sometimes the cover info feels like they told me the whole story and I get really annoyed.
I don’t know WHY some editors choose to put things on the cover that gives away important information. Even if it is something that happened in a previous book, they should be more careful. I avoid reading the backs of books if I haven’t read up to that point in the series because as Kristin said–sometimes that gives things away that I haven’t read!!!
I try really hard not to read any cover of the book, cause I want to be surprised whatever happens. I don’t even like reading the Acknowledgements ahead since sometimes it gives a clue (method of murder or something). The only time I’ll read the back cover is if I’m reading the bk & getting confused about what’s going on & need a helping hand. I am also the same way about videos I get from the library or from Netflix. Don’t want to know what it’s gonna be about ahead of time. And whenever I loan a book, I say, don’t read the cover, you’ll know what it’s about! That’s just how I am I guess. Funny how different people are!
I don’t mind if the cover gives away who the victim is. So many book covers now reveal the victim I’ve got used to knowing who will die before I start reading the book.
I’m more bothered about sloppy research where the author states “facts” that you know are completely wrong for the period or are just plain inaccurate. Or where their geography is so poor you wonder if they have ever bothered to look at a map. My personal favorite is one author who had her heroine sailing to Switzerland! I can only assume their editors are equally geographically challenged.
Also, poor use of language really irritates me. I’ve got tired of reading books where they are supposed to be set in England and the author has characters saying things that wouldn’t be said in England, using slang or language that is inappropriate for the period or using words that they definitely don’t say in England like “gotten”.
My final irritant is when characters solve the crime by making assumptions that defy logic or that they can have no possible way of knowing. Or when they find “major clues” that are so ridiculous they spoil the story. I know that Sherlock Holmes managed to solve crimes by discovering some dust that came from Egypt or some such amazing feat, however, other authors having supposedly normal people using this kind of device to “solve” their crimes is just sloppy writing and poor story construction.
Sorry, but you did ask!
Edie Dykeman says
I don’t mind knowing who the victim is, but I definitely don’t want to know who the killer is until close to the end.
I, also, have a tendancy to peek at the ending about a third of the way through if I find the story is slower than I like, but then the story is ruined for me.
I try not to peek, but sometimes it’s either that or just stop reading altogether.
I peek. But that’s my choice and I control how much information I want and when I want it. Covers and blurbs that over-share don’t allow this.
What really drives me crazy is re-reading a mystery after many years. I remember some details but not all, and sometimes the murderer is on the tip of my tongue and distracts me from the story. So I flip some pages, or use the scroll on ereader:)
I had mixed feelings when I read the inside jacket … I no longer read the inside jacket/cover.
If I like the general plot and/or theme of the book I will read it. If the first one reeled me in I read the whole series.
I DO read the inside jacket cover but only because I want to know where the story is taking place, what time of year, what characters might be in the story, things like that. I won’t not read a book because of what details are given out. I don’t like plots with foreign intrigue or stories about crooked politicians. We get enough of that stuff on the news every night!!! But I would like to be able to figure out “who did what” on my own. But that’s just me. Because there are a lot of books on the shelves with these plots, I know a lot of people do like these stories..
Sometimes I will read the ending of a book but for me I feel like I am cheating myself. For instance, the last Harry Potter Book. When the news clips kept saying that a major character was going to be killed off!, I wanted to know if that character was going to be Harry, Ron, or Hermione. So I did peek there! I sure didn’t want Harry being killed off!!!!
I like to be surprised…so have never read ahead. My preference is for the book flaps/backs to be persuasive not revealing.
I don’t mind knowing who is going to die. But I would never peek at the ending if I intend to finish reading the book. It would ruin it for me. However, if I decide that the book isn’t worth reading all the way through I might look at the end just out of curiosity. But that is something that doesn’t happen very often.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
I agree about it spoiling the mystery if you peek ahead. But sometimes, especially with a new-to-me author, I simply think it’s sloppy mystery-writing if the culprit is SO obvious. When I resort to looking at the end of the book in those instances, it’s because the new-to-me author has pretty much lost me as a future fan. It’s usually before my “page 50” rule goes into effect… If I’m just teetering back and forth about whether I want to spend my time reading a new author VS waste my time, this method of skipping usually makes the decision very easy for me.
Danna, you give a lot more than I do. If I can’t find any interest in a book by the 4th chapter, then that book is gone. I really like the books that grab me from the first page, are page turners, and without a whole lot of jumping back and forth with plots. Some stories have way too many characters and it is hard for me to keep a drift of what is going on. Then some stories will introduce a character and then seem to forget that character somewhere along the way. Example, in ” Beautiful Rage” by Sandra Scoppettone, the character Hutt had a part in the story but then, to me anyway, he was left hanging. I thought this “Hutt” was going to have a major part in solving the crime but he really had nothing to do with it. Maybe this character will have more parts in future books but he sure was left hanging in this one. By the way, I knew “who done it” from the get-go.
I don’t mind knowing the victim ahead of time. What I hate is when the jacket misleads you on plot points. For instance, I just read one where the jacket eludes to secrets of the past being the key to the murder and old deaths but when it came to the final reveal it really had very little to do with old secrets at all. So the whole story I was watching for clues in the past that weren’t there and expecting some whopper revelation which didn’t happen (well one did and it had nothing to do with the mystery at all).
I confess also to being a peeker. Usually I peek because I am so sure I have it all figured out and can’t wait to see if I’m right (I have about a 50/50 record lol). I can also always tell when a mystery is really well written because the tension gets to be too much and I have to peek ahead to relieve it! And sometimes I peek ahead not for the solution reveal but just to see which guy/girl the lead character will end up with, lol. Mostly I’m just really impatient. 🙂
I never go to the end of the book but I have noticed the back cover of the book itself gives away alot – I’ve tried to stop myself from looking now just so I’m surprised!
This is one more bonus with reading e-books. No back cover or jacket to spoil the mystery:)
I just received an eReader for my birthday last weekend. I found that I read a lot faster without the distractions of back cover, inside cover, author picture!! ADD you say? ME???
Danna - cozy mystery list says
I’m there with you, Anne! Attention Deficit Disorder really makes one’s life a whirlwind!!!
Vickie B says
I am a peeker, too. Especially when I get that sort of antsy “when will this book be over” feeling. I’ve figured out the who-dunnit or don’t dig the characters or story. Most times, I just set the book aside for trade or donation when that feeling comes upon me. After I’ve peeked at the back page….
I’ve stopped reading the back or inside covers so I’ll be surprised as to who the victim or murderer are. I’m not a peeker but sometimes I’ll stop at a paragraph and go ahead a few just to find out something. I try to catch myself before I do though.
I just finished reading a book by Kate Wilhelm, a Barbara Holloway novel. This was a good book, had a good story. But the person to be murdered was on the inside cover. He didn’t get murdered until several chapters into the story. Then, our sleuth didn’t even enter the book until sometime after that. I got to thinking that maybe this wasn’t a Barbara Holloway book, after all. I kept going back to the cover to make sure the story had Barbara in it! I figured out who the bad guy was early on, almost before our sleuth came into the story!!!!!!
I had mentioned before what I look for from the cover, but another thing I check for is what the story is about. If the story is about, for example, art or acting, I won’t get the book. Just me
Donna (Merry Mishaps blog) says
I only want to see enough information on the jacket to determine whether or not the story will interest me. That usually revolves around the time and place with just a hint of the plot. Spoilers do not belong on book jackets!
I have just started to read “Nursing a Grudge, a Kentucky Geezers Mystery” by Chris Well. The back cover does tell who is murdered, plus at the start of the book has a list of characters including the victim and a list of suspects. This is okay by me because there are so many characters that I sometimes have a hard time keeping tract of who is who. I know who is getting the axe but sense this is a story with older characters I want to read it just to see what these older people do to solve the crime.
This, to me, looks like a good book!
Hi! I just found your site earlier this week and am really enjoying it!
Anyway, in response to this post… I avoid reading the back cover of books because I don’t want to have any expectations.
but…What about Colombo? (the cozy, in my opinion!, tv series) You always know who the killer is from in the beginning (and so does Colombo, I think); the fun is how he tricks the killer into giving him/herself away.
So maybe it’s kind of similar. You know who is going to get killed, but not necessarily about the story leading up to it.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Welcome to the Cozy Mystery site, Jayna! I’m glad to hear your enjoying it.
You’re so right about Columbo… the detection is the fun… and watching how Columbo gathers up the clues the known killer has left behind…