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After slightly more than a year of blogging, I’ve come to the conclusion that there really is an art to the perfect review. I’m not saying I’ve mastered perfection yet, but I do know what not to do.

When I read a review of a novel or a film, I frequently stop after the first paragraph or two.  That’s because too often I’ve had the experience of finding out more of the plot from the review or synopsis than I wanted to know.

I recently read a mystery, nameless here to protect the author of the back cover’s blurb, which gave away the fact that there was a second murder and told the reader who the victim was.  What made this especially upsetting was the fact that the novel was 350 pages long and the second murder didn’t take place until more than half way through, on page 182.

As it happened in this case, I hadn’t looked at the back cover at all before starting the book.  In fact, I had just finished the chapter in which the second killing took place when I decided to read the back of the novel.

What was the point of giving the reader or prospective reader such a plot spoiler before he or she read the book? It certainly would have killed the suspense for me if I hadn’t already reached that chapter.

There’s a fine line between not giving the potential reader enough of a teaser to whet that person’s interest versus giving out too much information and spoiling everything.  I hope I usually manage to get it right; if I don’t, please let me know.


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