2 min read


Or, "why books are like puzzles."

Last week, I finished reading Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead.

Since then, I have started and stopped two other novels – Katy Hays' The Cloisters and Cory Doctorow's Red Team Blues.

Here's the last paragraph I read in The Cloisters (making it about halfway through, if you're curious):

I met Leo one stop later at the entrance to the subway. I was wearing a short baby doll dress from Rachel's castoff collection, and was gratified when Leo looked at me and then performed a dramatic double take.

Here's the last paragraph I read in Red Team Blues (again, about halfway through):

As the saying goes, she cleaned up real good. She emerged from her bedroom with her hair under a tan kerchief, wearing wide-legged black slacks and a stiff white cotton shirt tailored narrow and high at the waist, exposing a millimeter of torso. She stepped into a pair of leather sandals and lifted each foot like a yogi to buckle the straps.

It's interesting that I stopped both books at what appears to be the start of a new relationship. Perhaps it is because I know, as an author, that neither of these relationships are going to be endgame. They're meant to be complications, but they read as distractions; C-level subplots that resolve, in both cases (because I peeked), with the narrator re-establishing a distanced friendship.

Doctorow does more with his paragraph than Hays does. That's also interesting. We have a stronger sense of who his main character is, and what he finds attractive, and how he thinks – and if I were to finish either of these books, I'd pick Red Team Blues, trusting that each word would provide a slightly better payoff.

But I'm not compelled to know what happens next, now that I can guess it. There isn't a missing piece for me to puzzle over. There might be, for other readers – the same way that there might have been something in Emily Henry's Book Lovers that certain readers may be searching for.

Book review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry
A love story—but not our love story.

That said, I'm also procrastinating on these books because there's still a puzzle I need to solve in the book I just finished.

Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead.

The sixth novel in the Three Pines mystery series.

The third book to ever make me cry.

I want to know how she did it – and until I do, I may not want to read anything else.