The problem with reading a lot of mystery novels is you start to expect more each time. You look for the shock value with twists and turns. When authors use manipulation to trick the reader, you squeal with glee because they gotcha.
Reading the Navajo Mysteries by Tony Hillerman, I’m starting to wonder if these expectations are a product of the new world we live in. Everyone wants more, more, more. Faster internet, phones that aren’t really phones but mini-computers, cars that can drive themselves.
You see, Dance Hall of the Dead, published in 1973, is a simple book with a simple mystery. The writing is exceptional and characters well-developed. But, I can only give it 3-stars because I have fallen down the rabbit hole of the GIMME MORE mentality. Very early in the novel I figured out whodunit and why. There was never a question in my mind and I was right. And, that was a bitter disappointment. 2015 Mary kept waiting for the shock and awe. It didn’t happen. Instead I was treated to a well-written mystery that I knew I should appreciate but just couldn’t.
Could Dance Hall of the Dead win the Edgar award today? Probably not. And that’s a shame.