...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

What do you look for in a book?
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PK asked in comments to my rant about leaving Rozan's ABSENT FRIENDS off the Edgar ballot

"What do you look for in a crime fiction book when you read for review or judging? " And I thought it worthy of discussion as a whole separate topic, although I admit I'm not sure I understand the weight of the question. Are you asking "what do you look for in a book?" or specifically "what do you look for in a book that you're going to review, or assess for an award?"

As the only awards I've ever nominated/voted on are "reader" awards - that is to say, unlike some folks here, I've never been on a jury - it's simply a matter of thinking a book was great and putting it up there. In my earlier entry on "read any good books last year" is my best of list for 2004 for best first mystery novel and best mystery novel. NONE of them are Edgar nominees, as I say.

I don't look for anything different when read a book I'm going to review any differently than I read for pleasure, so I'm not sure what you're asking, PK. I read _somewhat_ for entertainment, I guess, but I want more, often, than entertainment. I _think_ that comes from a need within me to be lost for a few hours, to be away from life, which may explain my preference for books that aren't lightweight. Some of the things I like a lot make me think, make me confront issues or history or behavior. Not ALL, mind you but I like stuff that makes me think and stays with me after I close the cover. Most important - characters who get my attention, and at some level, make me care what happens to them. Situations in their lives that make them interesting, behavior that makes them interesting, how they react to the situations they're in. Lack of cliched writing. While i understand the constraints of the mystery genre, I am tired to bits of certain plot lines, certain fallbacks, certain cheats in mysteries. Much of that comes from simply reading too damn many mysteries and knowing there are only usually X many ways the story can go. I'm least interested in baroque plotting. I want to know how the things that happen affect the people they happened to.

Any of that help, make sense, explain?

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