I have never felt that I have an obligation (professional or personal) to conceal the endings of books from people.

I’ve always suspected that anyone who hasn’t figured out where the book is headed after 300 pages of warm-up probably isn’t reading very well. An author has been showing his hand for one hundred thousand words, detailing the minds and actions of his subjects, his bent of mind and bag of tricks, and you have no idea? It’s not my job to protect the soft-headed from their failings.

I would never reveal the crucial clue in an Agatha Christie book, because that is the focus of the mystery genre, where the metered revelation of information and subsequent amplification of suspense is the whole game. Quality-Lit novels use a different strategy. If a book that is not a mystery is ruined by the revelation of some element of the story, it is fair to wonder what that book was offering the...


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