Whether a book is bought or borrowed, reading it is a fair commitment of time and energy. So how do I make the decision to commit?
A lot of people talk of first pages. Not me. A great first page is a bonus, it's not a decider.
A good blurb--essential. Including positive quotations by favourite authors--useful.
A random dip into the middle of the book. I've been known to reshelve famous names because the random dip found something icky.
At this point, I'm often happy to dive into the book. However, with mysteries I have an unfortunate weakness. I don't always indulge it, but I like to know the ending before I start. I know, horrible reader behaviour. It's just I don't want to "love" a character who turns out to be the killer. Also, I like to know the ending's happy. Although, there's really no justification, is there, for a self-imposed spoiler?
[This post was prompted by comments at the Pyr post about new submission guidelines. Lesson: always read comments.]