My most recent website poll asked the question:
When reading a mystery, what bugs you the most?
The two top answers, each getting over 20% of the votes were:
2) Not enough character development
So it would seem that readers don’t want a retread of the same old story lines. So forget about the dark and stormy nights and the butler did it. And they want to see multi-dimensional characters – even in their bad guys.
Following closely behind at just over 15% was the complaint that readers do not want to figure out whodunit before they get to the last pages.
Coming in at just over 10% each were too bugs that are closely related. The first was a dislike for mysteries having too many read herrings – readers don’t mind being mislead, just not too many times, so don’t be a Henny Penny author – and having plots that are simply too complicated.
Bugs that were not such a big deal were: (1) not having enough meaningful clues (which jives with readers with not wanting to figure things out before the end of the book), and (2) having too much character development and not enough mystery.
Poll respondents were able to give some of their own answers about what bugs them when reading a mystery, and they came up with some interesting pet peeves. Among these were:
(1) Using weird, undetectable drugs to commit a murder
(2) A sleuth making it clear they know something but don’t share it with the readers
(3) Introducing the murderer as a walk-on character 2/3 into the book
and and oldie but a goodie:
(4) Bad editing and bad writing!
Please visit http://anthonybidulka.com/ to vote in the new poll which asks:
Do you care about setting? As a reader, where do you prefer a main character to live?