I'm a bit of a fan of ambiguous endings - but I know that other people want to chew up the final book chapter and spit it somewhere.

What camp do you fall in (and if you've got some books with beautifully ambiguous endings that you liked do tell).

THE LYING TONGUE that I just finished had one of those not all threads are tied up nicely endings and I really liked the way it was done (obviously YMMV).

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I like tidy endings, but I also like them to have a nuance, a tiny question mark. In DYING TO BE THIN, the protagonist has a final scene in which she "wraps up" the case, as many amateur detectives do. But then, while dining with a close friend, she opens a fortune cookie. The fortune cookie contains a warning. That warning sets up the hook/premise for the next book.
The only ambiguous ending mystery book that immediately comes to my mind is "American Psycho". Otherwise "Villette" and Great Expectations that deliberately provide 2 alternative endings.
I agree with you Margot - I think that's why I like ambiguous as well - life isn't tidy and I like books that reflect that feeling. I'm particularly allergic to those books that have a final couple of pages with an obvious closing off of any stray bits and pieces through the book - that sort of tidying up always strikes me as "oh dear - I forgot...." even though the author might have just been going to resolutions all round - doesn't work for me.
I love ambiguous endings. Stuff that keeps me awake at night thinking about the characters. As I get older, I find life is rarely clear-cut. That things are never completely resolved. That friends and families betray and odd allegiances are often being made. So I like fiction that reflects reality as well. Don't get me wrong, I CAN be a sucker for a happy ending, but there is something about people who end up limping into the sunset, not riding off on a charger with the cooing maiden stashed ridiculously on the pommel of the saddle. I like being disturbed and uncomfortable at times; it appeals to me much more!
I like ambiguous endings too--even a book that ends badly is better for me than having a wonderful book spoiled by a completely sappy happy ending. Life is messy and there's no such thing as a happy ending. There's happy moments and even happy days, but no thoroughly happy endings. Yes, I do read for escape and entertainment, but happy endings (especially after a book filled with tension, heartache and bad things) just make me cringe; I feel like the author copped out on me.

I like ambiguous endings because it lets me use my own (considerable) imagination. However, a concrete ending that's done right can also work for me. Unfortunately I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.

There's ambiguous and then there's maddening. There was a book where the detective came up with 4 or 5 solutions to the crime, each with a different perpetrator, all of which were extremely plausible. When the final act was revealed I was left wondering if the final solution was right at all for the facts of the case fit each of the other perps/solutions just as well as the final one. Now *that* one was too ambiguous for me.

I prefer the episode of 'Homicide' where the Captain tells Pembleton to get a kid to confess to a murder because he wants the case cleared. Pembleton demurs, he doesn't think the kid did it. The Captain insists: "Clear the case." So Pembleton gets the kid to confess to a crime he didn't commit. Making us viewers wonder about 'confessions' at all. Which was the point.


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