Youdunnit bookPerhaps, like me, you can’t resist entering competitions on Twitter and Facebook.

After all, taking part usually requires the minimum of effort. A quick ‘retweet’ and ‘follow’ or a ‘like’ and ‘share’ and you’re in the running to win a tube of toothpaste or maybe even a packet of crisps.

So when I was told in a tweet that I’d won a prize, I felt my labours had paid off.

Admittedly, winning a paperback book isn’t quite the same as landing the jackpot in the National Lottery or a two-week, all-expenses-paid trip to Barbados, but I can’t deny it gave my day a boost.

#Youdunnit is no ordinary book.

A partnership between Specsavers and Penguin, #Youdunnit contains three short crime stories, each written by a different Penguin author.

But what is interesting is that the tales are based on the same set of plot ideas – all suggested by crime fiction fans on Twitter.

The #Youdunnit experiment attracted more than one thousand tweets and 675 ideas, and from these proposals a single plot framework was produced. It was then up to the authors – Nicci French, Tim Weaver and Alastair Gunn – to each craft their own version.

It was apt that the murder type chosen was: the followers of one Twitter account are murdered, one by one. And naturally the hero’s fashion item had to be: specs.

I was intrigued to discover how the writers would incorporate the hero’s interests of art deco, breakdance and progressive rock from the 70s. Similarly, it wouldn’t be easy to throw in the life event of winning a spelling bee at the age of 11. Or would the authors opt for the safe option of leaving these bits out, as it wasn’t compulsory for them to include every detail presented to them?

My verdict.

What surprised me most was that each story was so different. This was a relief because it would have been dull if all three tales had been virtually the same. Thankfully, while the writers were given the same plot framework, they did have a certain amount of freedom. For example, the setting chosen was a ‘small town in autumn’ but this town could be wherever they wanted it to be. My favourite location out of the three was South Africa, as chosen by Tim Weaver for his story, Disconnection.

But when some of the more obscure plot details were included, they didn’t always fit into the story that well. However, I was impressed with the authors for facing up to the challenge.

I don’t often read crime fiction but this book has inspired me to delve into the genre further, and it was a pleasant change to read something different to the norm.

Now, over to you…

Would you like to judge for yourself how the ‘crowdsourcing’ (excuse the jargon) crime fiction experiment turned out? You can download #Youdunnit for free. After you’ve read it, tell me your verdict by posting a comment below.

Happy reading.