In the September 2019 newsletter I asked readers to write about good books with bad endings.

Here are their responses:

Claudia: The book whose ending most disappointed me was a book by Lisa Scottoline, SOMEONE KNOWS (2019). And I told her so on her facebook page and even got a reply from her. I like her books and read them all the time. The book SOMEONE KNOWS was such a well written book until the last two chapters. I feel like she just got tired of writing and lost her imagination and copped out to justify the book title.

Vicki: Last disappointing end of book?

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – by David Wroblewski

The author builds up the suspense in this coming of age story about a boy who doesn’t speak, but it falls apart in the end when everything goes wrong. Someone should have triumphed (presumably the good guy) but the ending was cut off and short. It appears no one “won”, but the reader can’t be certain.

Most frustrating end of a book?

Coma by Robin Cook. I read it over 35 years ago, and still remember flipping the last page about 4 times looking for more story.

Chris: Hi Graeme. I had to think for a few days about which books (or in my case, book series) have disappointed me with their endings. No question, it’s The Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson. Her characters are great and the stories really pull me in but she’s always teasing readers with the potential relationship between the two main characters (Sarah Brandt and Sergeant Malloy) which seems to progress by tiny, tiny steps so that it takes an entire book for them to have a moment’s worth of personal interaction. Then, bam, the story is over and the reader is left unsatisfied and let down. I finally stopped reading the series as I always felt so manipulated at the end of each book. It’s almost like the writer doesn’t want the characters to actually have an ongoing relationship–maybe she thinks the story wouldn’t be as compelling, which is a pity.

Tom: Hello. I really can’t think of a specific book for this topic. I try not to guess an ending and sometimes hope to be surprised. It’s usually the good guys knocking off the bad guys or some savior appearing to save the day from whatever calamity might be on the horizon. Or in general, it’s a somewhat predictable ending once you arrive at it. I am sure there might be some books out there where the bad guys win or that evil wins or something happens that is really off the wall. Since we are dealing in fiction mostly, why can’t terror, mayhem and other nastiness win in the end? I recently read “The Warehouse” by Rob Hart and found it to be very sterile. I didn’t much like the characters. The plot was OK and the ending was somewhat satisfying in that the bad guy and his corporation got theirs in the end. But that was not the ending I was half-way expecting. I thought maybe this time Big Brother would continue on his merry way and the people be damned for being so gullible and accepting of their dreary fate. Anyway, I guess we need heroes so that they can live to fight another day in a sequel or series that goes on and on

Bud: The Appeal by John Grisham — worst ending ever. I expected the good guys to prevail and the bad receive appropriate comeuppance. The opposite outcome really ruined the whole book for me. Haven’t read another John Grisham book since.

Janice: I’m a relatively new reader of the later books of Stephen King–they’re a little more mellow than horrifying. I enjoyed the Bill Hodges trilogy and had expectations for future books. Because of those expectations I found to ending of End of Watch so sad. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler for other readers.

Karl: Most disappointing ending to a book? It has to be the last book in the Dexter series. Dexter could not end like that. I am not writing what that ending is out of respect for the reader who has the series on his reading list. I read the last words and thought, “Wow. That’s dumb.”

Linda: I cannot specifically remember a bad ending book, but I will say any time I have read those Amish romance/mystery books I am disappointed in the ending. It seems it always ends with the hero and the heroine not getting together, because one is Amish and one is an Outlander. I want a happy ending. I kind of gave up reading them because of that. I guess I am an old romantic, where I think true love should win in the end. Thanks again for your newsletter and have a wonderful month. Love hearing about your family travels, too.

Max: Regarding books with disappointing endings, I’ll tell you that of the few books I’ve tried by Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton, nearly all of them had disappointing endings. Just big letdowns. So those are three authors I avoid.

Wessel: I agree that Stephen King (who is otherwise a good writer) struggles to conclude a novel in a satisfactory manner

Sam: One disappointing ending I remember well was the The Golem of Hollywood by (one of the Kellermans, can’t remember which). I mean, the whole book was kind of weird, and then with the crappy ending I just felt like I’d wasted perfectly good reading time on a total dud.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Good Books with Bad Endings

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Good Books with Bad Endings”

  1. Linda Latimer: 5 years ago

    I did not see a question for the month of October. I must , however, give my latest recommendation. I am reading the Orphan X series. Now I am on the 4th book “Out of the Dark”. I am amazed how Hurwitz can progressively get better with each book. The first book was excellent, but each book after is even better. The one I am on now is by far my favorite. I am glad this series was recommended to me. Thank you for the October newsletter and all of the new recommendations.


    • Graeme: 5 years ago

      Hi Linda,

      The question was “what was the last book you read and how was it?” I just want to double check there wasn’t an error in the newsletter and some parts of it got omitted for some people – do you see it in there in the e-mail? It’s just above the reader mailbag winners.


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