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Four Blind Mice

by James Patterson
  Alex Cross is on his way to resign from the Washington Police when his partner John Sampson shows up at his door. One of Sampson's oldest friends has been framed for murder and, worse yet, is subject to the insular laws of the U.S. Army. The evidence is strong enough to send him to the gas chamber.
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Surprise Endings

New research suggests that not everyone enjoys a murder mystery with a surprise ending. People with low self-esteem like to feel they knew all along who committed the crime, probably because it makes them feel smarter. But everyone seemed to enjoy a mystery with no strong hint of how it would be resolved.

Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University said:

"People who have lower levels of self-esteem prefer crime and detective stories that confirm their suspicions in the end, while those with higher self-esteem enjoy a story that goes against expectations. Personality plays a role in whether a person wants to be confirmed or surprised when they read mysteries."

Conducted with Caterina Keplinger of the Hanover University of Music and Drama and published in Media Psychology, the study was an attempt to find out more about how a popular genre of fiction appeals to different kinds of people. Written personality assessments were completed by 84 German college students who then read a one-page story about a murdered businessman entitled 'Murder Because of Lust or Greed?' with two likely suspects: the victim's wife and his lover.

The students read one of three versions. The first presented both suspects as equally likely to have committed the crime. The second hinted that one suspect was more likely to be the killer and this was subsequently proved correct (confirmation ending). The third version also hinted at the likely guilt of one suspect but this turned out to be incorrect (surprise ending).

Participants rated how much they enjoyed the resolution of the story. People with low self-esteem rated the surprise ending much less enjoyable than the confirmation ending. People with high-self-esteem disliked being confirmed and enjoyed being surprised. Researchers suggest that the most popular mysteries would be those with a high degree of uncertainty from the beginning, which don't lead readers to expect a certain ending.

The study also found that participants who scored high on susceptibility to boredom were slightly more likely to enjoy the story with high uncertainty. Participants who tested higher on need for cognition - the tendency to enjoy thinking deeply about issues and situations in life - enjoyed the story less than others. The researchers suggest that such individuals would probably enjoy a more complex plot.

While certain stable personality traits, like self-esteem, appear to influence enjoyment of mysteries, there may also be situational factors that have an effect.

Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick commented:

"If you have a bad day at work that threatens your self-esteem, you might enjoy a confirming mystery resolution more than you would normally."

She added:

"Mysteries probably appeal more to people who enjoy thinking more than average. The mystery genre is one of the more complex genres. Mysteries have multiple suspects, and multiple possible motives, which all add complexity. It is much different than a suspense story which just has a good guy vs. a bad guy."

Bleachers

Bleachers

by John Grisham
  High school all-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback ever to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by since those glory days, and Neely has come home to Messina to bury Coach Eddie Rake, the man who molded the Spartans into an unbeatable football dynasty.
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The Vanished Man: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

The Vanished Man: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

by Jeffery Deaver
  The New York Times bestselling author of The Stone Monkey is back with a brilliant thriller that pits forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme and his partner, Amelia Sachs, against an unstoppable killer with one final, horrific trick up his sleeve.
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