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October 4, 2014

Going back a few months, I had been having a run of bad luck.  If I were a gambler, I’d have been heading away from Las Vegas as fast as I could go.

Not to mention names, but there are two publishers of mystery novels whose books I have decided not to bother reading ever again.  One publishing house is fifteen years old, the other thirty-five or a bit more, so they’ve published quite a few books between them.  But each of the half dozen books I’ve picked up recently with their imprints has been a disappointment, so much so that I’ve not finished a single one.

First off, I don’t like the way their books are formatted.  The text is not well-spaced, too close together, making it difficult to read.  But secondly, and more importantly, is that their books are not interesting or well-written.  Some start off well but lose their steam after a handful of chapters; some, to my mind, don’t even start promisingly.  After a couple of dozen pages, it’s obvious to me that this particular book is going nowhere.

My second complaint is an objection to a couple of books I’ve read recently that seem to be copies of The Silence of the Lambs.  That book was a terrific read, one of the reasons being that it was an original. 

But now, the idea of a crazed, psychopathic killer who is behind bars in an absolutely secure facility from which no human being could possibly escape but who manages to do just that has been done to death (pardon the pun).  He or she returns to terrorize the protagonist or the world at large so that yet another sequel may be written.  It’s not a good idea for a novel in 2014, not creative at all.

Do I put my opinion above the authors of these books and the publishers who chose to add them to their lists?  Well, yes, I do.  It’s my time and money (or, at any rate my time if I borrow a book from my local library) that’s being spent, and if I don’t like the way the story is headed, I’m free to put that book down and choose another.

I’m looking for authors who are able to come up with new, inventive plots, ones that don’t have criminals “coming back from the dead” or getting out of a prison from which Houdini himself couldn’t escape.  These are cheap tricks, in my mind.  We devout mystery readers deserve better.

Luckily, my run of bad mysteries seems to be over.  I’ve been reading some absolutely wonderful ones over the last few weeks, and I look forward to sharing them with you in the near future.


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