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Please Don't Say Whodunit

August 18, 1996

Like most people, I read The Book Review to keep up with what's new in books, what's being published and what's worth reading. I like to get a feel from the reviewer what the book is essentially about, why it is relevant and how well-written it is.

If it's a novel, I like to know something about what the story deals with and who the characters are and what the plot covers. But I don't have to know, especially in the case of a mystery novel, how it ends and who dies. Part of the pleasure of reading such a book is not knowing and trying to figure it out in advance.

As a fan of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series, I was excited to know something about "A Little Yellow Dog." As I was reading Dick Adler's interesting and well-written review (July 14), my appetite for the book was whetted until Adler chose to inform me how it ends and who dies or, in the case of Mouse, who might have died. Now I feel inclined to wait a year hoping I might forget about the review, although the pertinent details Adler chose to reveal will probably stay with me no matter how long I wait.

Of course, whether or not a reader buys a book is not the concern of the reviewer and should not necessarily be the concern of the newspaper. But don't turn off your readers by telling how the book ends, especially in the mystery genre.

There is no doubt I'll eventually read the book. If I continue to read reviews that reveal the entire plot, however, I will feel inclined to stop reading the L.A. Times Book Review, and that would be a shame.



I suggest the next time your critic, Richard Eder, goes on vacation, you replace him with a reviewer who possesses a little more common sense than Dick Adler.

Perhaps Adler doesn't realize that when he's reviewing a book such as "A Little Yellow Dog," that it would be in good taste and common sense not to alert the fans of this series that the end of this book holds the death (or serious coma) of one of the main supporting characters of that series.

I hope the L.A. Times has the foresight not to hire Adler to spoil any more books for the readers of your newspaper.


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