Not sure if there is a more specific area than General Writing for this so appologies if im in the wrong forum. I was wondering what people's view were on what makes for a good "mystery" in a novel. The easiest way i can think of to say what i mean is to use an example. Anna, Bob and Claire are a room for a night, with no windows, one door which is locked, and a cookie sitting on a table in the middle of the room. They all go to sleep, and when they wake up in the cookie is gone . Its then down to detective Jim to find out whether Anna, Bob or Claire ate the cookie. Do do you think it is better (in general) to write something where the reader: To work out fairly early that it was really Anna, and then pretend to be surprised at the end when Jim puts it all together? To realise a couple of chapters before the author spells it out that it was Bob all along? To have no idea one way or the other until Jim says "It was you Claire!" Or, is it okay to find out at the end that it was really Dave, who picked the lock, ate the cookie, then snuck out while they were all asleep? Though obviously that type of thing has most significance in Crime, it can be included in almost any genre of fiction - i personally am including something like it in a Fantasy that i am writing. I was inspired to ask this because i am a little worried that if i put in too many hints, it will end up like the Anna scenario above, but if i dont throw in enough / any, then readers will feel cheated that it was impossible to guess. I have never successfully written a mystery so i dont know whether or not to be heavy-handed with the clues. Is that an issue for any of you when writing / reading anything with an this type of element in it? Personally, my favourite "mysteries" in general are ones where i can work it out a couple of chapters or pages before it is officially revealed. I have read many books Crime fiction or other books which include a mystery in them, where it turns out it was the person i most suspected since halfway through, and i feel that it can sometimes spoil the book. My favourite one of all time funnily enough was probably Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (though it did have a hint of the "Dave scenario" from above).