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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Do you read mystery novels? If so, why? Is it the mysteries themselves that appeal to you? The puzzle-solving? The murders? Or why don’t you read them? What about them doesn’t appeal?

Interspersed between more high-brow and serious books I would stick in a mystery or two to relieve the tension in my brain. Mystery is one genre gap that I should be able to fill. The “whodunit” of mystery genre certainly appeals me as a reader with its mounting anticipation and delayed pleasure. I’m not well-versed in this genre, but over the years have enjoyed Agatha Christie, Thomas H. Cook, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle and Patricia Highsmith. One author I find difficule to classify is Daphne du Mariner, whose works border between mystery and historical fiction. Other “supermarket book” authors I’m somewhat skeptical to pick up. As to what doesn’t appeal about mystery, I can only say that it’s kind of like popular culture. Mystery is meant for quick pleasure and usually has little literary arts in it. Think “escapist” literature. Not all mystery novels have shallow, cardboard and stereotypical characters, but most are meant for quick reading that I probably won’t remember shortly after putting them down. That said, the mystery genre has a lot going for it. The investigation and storyline are what most attract readers to the genre. The point of mysteries is to examine the clues and solve the puzzle. For readers whose goal is to solve the mystery before the detective, the appeal is the intellectual challenge.

2 Responses

  1. I agree with your stereotype of mysteries, when it comes to the cozy craze we find our selves in now. If you were to read a lot of the Golden Age authors, I would beg to differ with you. I find a lot of them a just as well written, well thought out, as what some would call the classics.

  2. > quick reading that I probably won’t remember shortly
    > after putting them down.
    I think this is part of the appeal of most mysteries to me. They’re like TV shows — pure entertainment. I enjoy them for the moment but don’t have to feel obliged to remember them months or years later.

    > The point of mysteries is to examine the clues and solve the puzzle.
    Since I tend to read series books, I find the point is much more to enjoy a short visit with characters that I have come to like rather than trying to figure out “who done it?”

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