WHY WRITE MYSTERIES?
Posted May 12, 2014on:
What reader didn’t love Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys? While reading them, we found independence and a puzzle. Murder is never the point of a mystery. It is the story of the protagonist, who demands justice in an unjust world, a white knight who never betrays her code of honor. In mysteries, we explore society’s ills and attempt to right those wrongs. Mysteries are a quest for honor, celebrating heroes willing to fight dishonesty, fraud, and corruption. They look at the dregs of society, yet are suspenseful and often romantic. We write stories of broken relationships and in solving the crime, the sleuth must explore the relationships between the victim and those connected to the victim. Mysteries focus on the intimate, destructive, frightening secrets hidden beneath a seemingly peaceful community. Of course, we don’t have murders in our small towns every year or live among serial killers, but we do live among flawed relationships. We all know about the abused wife or child, the despair of an unloved child, the hatred of a spurned lover, the jealousy among siblings. We deal with the manipulative aunt, the miserly uncle, the jealous wife, the interfering mother-in-law, the bossy sister, the nosy neighbor, the alcoholic cousin, the combative couple down the street, the impossible boss. The characters are real and readers recognize them at once. “Oh, yes, that’s just like Uncle Harry, or the woman at the office, or me.” The emotions created by these people affect everyone around them.
Critics say: all those murders in a small community? No, there may not be a body in the basement, but there will always be heartbreak and passion, fear, denial, jealousy, anger, and revenge in every society. It’s how these emotions destroy lives that fascinate the writers and readers of mysteries. They mirror the realities of our lives. We live in an unjust world, but we want the world to be good and fair and just, and mysteries show us that goodness and truth matter. So, in a mystery, we go to a magical place where justice is served, where wrongs are made right, where goodness always triumphs. In addition to charming the reader with village life, the mystery often affords humor as the amateur sleuth outwits inept law enforcement officials.
We write mysteries because we love to read them. In writing them, we determine the weather, direct the events, and settle the scores. We have the power to create people, set up communities, solve riddles, and kill people off at will. Mystery writers love closure and happy endings. Now you know why, so let’s all go read a mystery!