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.
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.