On her blog, author Jane Haddam takes issue with my review of her book Cheating at Solitaire here on this one. She’s certainly right to take issue. Overall I didn’t find the book particularly rewarding, and I tried to explain why.

   I did end the review on a positive note by suggesting that “…values are the key to Cheating at Solitaire — hometown values, small town values, I don’t believe it matters either way. Maybe they’re even universal values and and maybe this is why readers keep coming back for more.”

   Earlier on, though, I expressed my displeasure with the lack of actual detection that went on in what I assumed to be a book about a detective, ex-FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, the leading character in most if not all of the author’s books. I had to conclude that solving a mystery, the undoing of a puzzle plot, was not one of the reasons readers keep coming back for more of his adventures.

   Nor does Jane Haddam deny it. Quoting here and there from her comments, and you can go read them in full to fill in any blanks I’ve omitted, she says:

    “Now, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the author of the review/blog linked above is male. In my experience, men tend to like lots of plot and to see nothing but wasted time and space in a concentration on character.

    “But even so, even most plot-besotted readers should have noticed by now that there really isn’t anything new in the way of plot out there, and hasn’t been for years. There isn’t much new in the way of detection, either. I’ve been watching my way through four and a half seasons of the old Perry Mason, and I can see the plots coming down the pike as predictably as summer follows spring.


    “I guess what I’m saying here is that I can’t imagine reading a mystery for the plot, and I really have no particular use for reading one for the continuing characters, who are either going to be boring as hell in no time at all or are going to have the kind of overwrought lives that make Dark Shadows look like a children’s story.

    “Apparently, however, a lot of people out there are innocent of the idea that you might want to read mystery fiction for any other reason.”

   So there we are, miles apart. Miles. (But you might also want to read my second paragraph above again.)