Since returning to creative writing six years ago, I enjoy reading differently to how I once did. Knowing how something's done is bound to interfere with anything as entertainment, be it reading a book, watching a film or a gymnastics competition.
I'm more critical of books that have been highly praised and which have won prizes, than reading the next story in a series I've known for 30 years, as with James Lee Burke
, which feels more like catching up with old friends—the characters and the author.
One slight regret is that after writing my own crime novels for five years, I've yet to be surprised by whom the perpetrator is when reading detective stories. I've just read a tale of murder set in Sweden, called Dark Pines,
which deserved its high praise. Author Will Dean knows what he's doing, but I guessed who the murderer was the second time they appeared, as they were the only character who was pleasant to the investigating reporter protagonist. As misdirection, it failed abysmally, but maybe a normal reader would have been hoodwinked.
The most surprising author I've enjoyed in the last year is Patrick deWitt,
whose bizarre tales are entirely unpredictable, almost as if he decided what to write next on the roll of a dice.