(All images used are either mine or public domain. There’s an unspoken rule about book covers…publishers and authors alike love to have their books promoted as much as possible. So while the artwork is copyrighted, it’s also generally considered fair use.)
Is there anything more delicious than a mystery? I LOVE mysteries! Reading a detective story or watching a crime drama, I love it all!
The untangling. The investigating. The way the answer is always there, but the storyteller chooses when you recognize it.
I remember when I read Encyclopedia Brown for the first time. This boy-genius got paid in quarters to solve mysteries. My ambition and my imagination ran wild. I plotted ways I could bring in business. I imagined scenarios where other kids opened up to me and told me all their secrets. I envisioned admiration and fame.
Unfortunately for me, the rest of the neighborhood kids didn’t actually have any mysteries for me to solve. At least not ones they were willing to part with their change over.
I eventually matured into vintage Nancy Drew. Even as a kid I recognized that Nancy was unrealistically perfect in all things. And it was irritating that George was always athletic and Bess was always fat and kind of dim. So the character development wasn’t great.
But the mysteries took place in the greatest places, from ancient mansions to ski slopes in foreign countries. And to be honest…I still pick up a Nancy Drew when the mood strikes me!
When I was in high school I watched my Dad go through a Sherlock Holmes phase. I decided I needed to see what that was all about. While I didn’t always understand the british references, I loved, loved, loved Sherlock Holmes. I devoured everything we had in our bookshelves at home as well as everything I could find at the local library.
But occassionally I’d catch references to stories I knew nothing about. It bothered me that there were Sherlock Holmes adventures I hadn’t read.
And then a bit of magic happened in college. I was headed for my cramped apartment that I shared with five other girls. My path home took me right through the middle of a campus bookstore sidewalk sale.
I’m pretty convinced it was meant to be. I mean, the overpriced bookstore came to me, literally sprawling itself in my path.
And there it was. The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Every account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnificent creation. Every mystery, every disguise, every clever ruse, all contained in one book.
So I had a decision to make. Eat a few meals or buy every Sherlock Holmes story in publication.
You don’t really have to ask which I chose, do you?
When I read mysteries, I rarely solve the puzzle before the big reveal. I’m not generally that clever. And if I do solve the mystery I scoff at the author’s predictability. I want to solve the mystery, but I don’t want to actually solve the mystery.
I’m convinced a good mystery will surprise you, while simultaneously making you feel clever about your efforts. I love to feel like I almost had it. That I was this close.
My favorite part of a delicious mystery? That inevitable moment where I cry out to the nearest person, “I KNEW he was a shady blaggard!” (because all the best mysteries are british), and I pat myself on the back for a job well done.