Sometimes I think there is nothing finer than spending a summer evening on my back porch putting together a jigsaw puzzle, looking up to see the dogs wrestling in the yard, and listening to country music drifting out of the radio.
I adore puzzles, and too frequently I am disappointed by the ones in mystery books. The books can be well-written, but the whodunit is too easy. If I can figure it out by two-thirds of the way through the book...and I'm correct at the end, it's not a puzzle I'm happy with. I need mysteries to surprise me.
Some of Dan Brown's books have surprising bits to them, as do Preston & Child's thrillers. I was happy to read an ARC of Michael A. Black's Blood Trails. That had a nice puzzle to it. It'll come out in August. Put it on your reading list. You won't be disappointed.
I've found some Val McDermids that delivered some great twists--puzzles that were difficult for me to solve, but that made great sense as she lays them out.
I hope my own mysteries have proper puzzles, and that they are solvable by savvy readers, but not easily so. I just sold the second Piper Blackwell book, The Dead of Night, and it will come out sometime this summer. My advance readers claimed they didn't see the endgame coming. Fingers crossed that they are right. My chief deputy in the series enjoys jigsaw puzzles, and he likens the cases he works to sorting colors and fitting the pieces in correctly.
I have a two-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle of World War 2 airplanes sitting on my shelf. Waiting for summer, waiting to be popped open on my back porch. I also have a stack of mystery novels that I've set aside for back porch reading. Real books, hardcover, that I can mutilate by bending the corners over to mark my spot. I'm hoping both pursuits will be surprising and satisfying.
And I hope my current project, an Italian mystery called The Bone Shroud, will present a not-easy-to-solve puzzle too.
Sometimes in my newsletter I discuss inserting puzzles into fiction. Here is a link to sign up for my newsletter.