When I talk about books in public, I try to stick to the ones I like. But I’ve just finished a “guy book” that upset me a lot. So I want to discuss it a little. I won’t tell you the name of the book. But it was about a woman lawyer whose husband was accused of murder. She loved him and defended him at his trial. During the course of the book, I got to know and like the heroine. Several times during the story, she questioned whether her husband was really innocent. But each time, she regained her faith in him. She won an acquittal, and they joyfully went home again. Then the author had the brilliant idea of having her find out that the guy was really guilty. Not just guilty, but a psychopath. When she confronted him, he tried to kill her. And she ended up shooting him in self-defense.
What fun! Not!.
I’d gone through a deeply emotional experience with the heroine. I rooted for her to win the court case–in the face of a hostile judge and a lot of dirty tricks from the prosecution. Not only that, during the trial, she almost gets fired from her job. But she triumphed over all of that.
What was her reward? Her life was destroyed. Why? Because it was a neat twist for the end of the book?
As I read, I started suspecting that the author was going to pull a zinger at the end. But I kept hoping for the best and I kept going because I liked the heroine and wanted her to win–and walk away happy. I was involved with the story, but now I’m really upset with investing so much time and emotional energy in the plot–and the characters.
There is no way I’d ever write a story like that. I put my hero and heroine through terrible trials. I test their resolve and their character and their love for each other. But I end the story with them happy together. Because that’s what I want to read. And write. There’s enough bad stuff going on in the world without inventing more.
So what do you think? Do you hate being jerked around by an author who gets you hooked, then pulls the rug out from under you?