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The Independent Culture
A reader has written to complain about Patricia D Cornwell's Cruel and Unusual, featured in this column last week. Derek B Cornish (sic) takes umbrage not at the book - he's a thriller fan - but at the publisher's cheek in filling the last 30 pages with the opening chapter of the author's next novel, out in hardback in October. Mr Cornish is eloquent and philosophical about the very particular pleasures of a good mystery story, not least the tension of 'keeping an eager eye on how many pages remain', and he offers some chastening consumer feedback on what he sees as a crass promotional ploy: 'Yes, I felt cheated . . . No, I didn't want to read the new first chapter; and I won't be buying the new hardback now, either. Yes, if I buy the paperback I'll expect a discount for the chapter I have already. And yes, though my mother always told me not to, the first thing I will do when I pick up a Warner book in future is turn to the back. There's more than one way of spoiling an ending.' Such a cogent rebuke should be enough to freeze a marketing person's very marrow, but it may come too late to nip this kind of puffery in the bud: have you looked in the back of the latest John Grisham paperback?

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