Here, on the eve of Labor Day, I am going to let someone else do the writing for me. From The Week, September 2, 2011:
Mysteries without Mystery
Have you ever been tempted to flip to the end of a mystery novel? Go ahead: Suspense, a new study has found, is irrelevant to our enjoyment of a story. In fact, say researchers at the University of California at San Diego, most people like stories more if they know in advance how the story will end--even with plots than hinge on a mystery or a twist. The researchers set up different versions of 12 short stories written by authors such as Agatha Christie, Raymond Carver, and Anton Chekhov. One came with an introduction that spoiled the ending; one had a spoiler embedded in the middle of the text; and a third appeared just as its author had written it. Suprisingly, readers who learned the endings of their stories up front reported liking them much more on a scale of one to 10 than did readers of the other two versions. Why? The pleasure readers get from a good story, Jonathan Leavitt tells BBCNews.com, has far more to do with the quality of the writing and the character development than with a nail-biting plot. Once a reader knows how a story will turn out, he or she "can focus on a deeper understanding of the story."
Anyone care to weigh in on this? I think we've all seen books where the author tells us up front what happened, and then lets the story unfold - and these can be effective. But a steady diet of revealing the truth upfront so that we can "enjoy" the book more? I have my doubts.