The Mystery of Endings

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Right?

Not always. Have you ever had the bad luck of happily reading a book, reaching the climax, turning the page to find out what happens and seeing a message, something like, buy book two to find out what happens?

I have. In both romances and mysteries. And I’ll tell you what happens for me: I never buy that author again.

But those ransom kinds of endings are just the most egregious examples of bad endings. 

More of them are like the one described in a comment posted today in a Facebook reader’s group. I don’t have permission to quote the comment so here’s the gist of it. The ending “stunk.” After a big buildup it seemed like they suddenly remembered they had a deadline, made something up and spit it out.

I’ve read a number of books that ended like the one referenced in that Facebook comment. It seems as if the author was bored or tired and just stopped writing when he or she hit the climax and failed to provide a denouement, “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.”

For me, the denouement is necessary for a satisfactory ending. After working on a book for months and writing hundreds of pages, I can’t believe an author doesn’t know or can’t figure out how it all comes together.

Have you ever encountered a less than satisfactory ending in a mystery?

Catherine Maiorisi

Catherine Maiorisi is the author of the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker–two tough women, fighting each other while solving high profile crimes. A Matter of BloodThe Blood Runs ColdA Message in Blood, and Legacy in the Blood are all available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks narrated by Abby Craden.  

In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.


    1. It’s frustrating to stay with a book through hundreds of pages, then be left waiting for the rest.

  1. I don’t have much of a temper. Ask anyone who knows me! But I remember throwing one book across the room in disgust because its ending was cut so short. I’d been thoroughly invested in the characters and story ’til about page 280.

  2. Mally,
    I have the same reaction. One of the books I referenced was over 400 pages long. It was on my kindle but if I’d had a paper copy I would have thrown it across the room, then burned it.

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