Am I alone in feeling permanently guilty for not commenting more on people's blogs? I am always so thrilled when people comment here, so feel doubly at fault for so rarely commenting elsewhere myself. I do read a lot of blogs, courtesy of Google Reader. (The reader is hooked up here so that it is also Petrona's blogroll, therefore if you look to the right and scroll down, you will see I am not telling a lie when I write that I read a lot of blogs!) But somehow, I only comment on the statutory 1 per cent of posts that I read, fulfilling some statistical observation or other. Most of the time this is because even when I have enjoyed a post I can't think of anything interesting to write about it – or if I do have a thought, I go to the blog and find out that six other people have already written it. Some of the time I just can't face going through all the palaver of trying to comment, crashes, signing in or other slowing-down factors. I am around a bit on the internet (see my Google profile for where) and I do comment quite a bit at the Friend Feed crime and mystery group (for online discussion of crime novels), but I am aware that a comment there is not the same as a comment at the actual blog itself. I will try to improve.
I don't really know why I wrote all that, because what I intended to do when I started this post was to highlight a discussion at Martin Edwards's excellent blog (Do you write under your own name?) about how one reads a mystery. (It was probably my awareness that I have not commented there for a while, and feeling bad about that, that made me write the first paragraph above!) Martin divides such readers into two groups, "those who like to try to solve the mystery themselves, before the solution is revealed, and those who simply enjoy the story and make no serious effort to work out what is going on." He's in the former group, and of the people who have commented to the post, about half are in each. Here is the gist of my response:
Martin, I am in your camp. Well I think I am. I started out with Sherlock Holmes and ever since have enjoyed the "race" to see if I could work out the solution before the author. But now that I am (a lot) older and have read so much crime fiction, I am not so sure. For example, I have recently finished a really wonderful book, An Empty Death by Laura Wilson (Orion, 2009). It is such an absorbing book, written by a talented author who is so enjoying the universe she has created and conveying it to the reader, in three main plot lines. However, the actual main mystery at the heart of it is not that difficult to work out, mainly because of the dearth of suspects. Yet I found myself deliberately not trying to second-guess the author, because there were so many aspects of this rich book to enjoy, and I was just happy to go with the flow.
So, eeek! I became of the second category without meaning to.
On the whole, though, I like to try to work out the puzzle before the author reveals all. In addition, if a crime book is not that well written and/or not a lot of effort has been put into it, I like to guess who did it before the author tells me – to get even! How sad or bad is that?!