Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Read Mysteries - Donna Simpson

There's a reason I started this blog; I love murder mysteries, and have since I can remember. Oh, they're not the only books I love. Classic fiction novels by Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Charlotte Bronte have their place in my heart. I have read and enjoyed historical romances by Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley and Carla Kelly, among others. But for sheer enjoyment my overwhelming favorites are the novels of Joan Hess, Mary Daheim, Diane Mott Davidson, Dorothy Cannell, and more than I can mention.

And that's where we come to why I read murder mystery fiction; simply put, I love it.

But why?

Murder mysteries, how I love thee... let me count the ways:

  1. A crime is committed. I've always been interested in crime, and watch cold case mysteries on TV, Court TV and even some true crime books. For an historical example of a true crime book I've read twice and now am looking for to read again, look up 'The Maul and the Pear Tree' by P.D. James. It's a fascinating tale of murder in Regency England.
  2. Tight plotting, with a clear storyline. I've read the occasional 'literary' fiction novel (some for school, like The French Lieutenant's Woman) and can't get into non-linear, unclear plotting.
  3. Interesting settings. Murder mysteries have exposed me to a version of Arkansas, the Pacific Northwest, the sunny beaches of Florida, village life in England, and many more places, all from my armchair!
  4. Fascinating characters. Who can read about Joan Hess's inimitible Hizzoner, Jim Bob Buchanon and the whole Buchanon clan and not howl with laughter? From there I go to Diane Mott Davidson's frazzled caterer Goldy Schulz... they become like family members you get updates on via the yearly newsletter!
  5. A puzzle, solved. I want to know. That's what it comes down to. I want to know not only whodunnit, but whydunnit? And Howdunnit? I'm snoopy by nature, and murder mysteries satisfy some of that snoopiness.
  6. They take me away... truly. I go somewhere else when I'm engrossed in a good mystery novel. It's a lovely feeling, refreshing when I come out of my stupor; it's kind of like coming home from a mini-vacation.
  7. Justice done. I rage at the inability of our human system, inevitably flawed, to truly find justice in the horrendous world of real-life murder. In real life, cases get caught up in the court system for years to come, but on the pages of a mystery you know who did it by the end, and they (usually) get their just desserts.
And speaking of dessert (and who doesn't... speak of dessert, that is?) Here is a link to a recipe for the cake pictured above, from the wonderful food site 'Kitchen Parade', and it sounds fabulous, though it has nothing to do with murder mysteries: http://kitchenparade.com/2009/09/banana-nut-cake-with-caramel-frosting.php

(Update: I am misusing the phrase 'just desserts', and I rarely do abuse the English language... anymore. For an explanation of why the phrase is actually 'just deserts', (single 's', not double) go here: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-just-deserts-mean.htm I will take credit for my second-thinking this morning, wondering if I was using the phrase right... and I found out I was wrong!!)

Anyhoo.... why did I add this recipe? Reason number 8 on my list, tho' I didn't put it down is... I love culinary mysteries, ones that have recipes, so I thought I'd do a blog-with-a-recipe!! I do copy them out, (recipes in mysteries) and I do use them. (BTW, does anyone know why my list shows up as a numbered list in the edit mode, but won't post that way??)

That's my short list. I could go into it at length, but I'm interested in all of YOU! Soooo... chime in, all you mystery lovers. Why do YOU love to read mysteries??


  1. When I was little, mysteries were the only type of book I read; I simply couldn't understand how you could have a plot without one! Now, I read all sorts of books; biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction, etc. I've found lately I'm reading anything BUT mysteries, mainly because I get my fill writing them.

    That recipe looks yummy. I may have gained weight just by looking at the picture.


  2. I find that I put mystery in my writing even when I'm not aware! I write historical and historical paranormal romances, but every one lately has a definite 'mystery' edge!

  3. Great reasons for loving mysteries! I'm with you on the non-linear plotting--too confusing!

    Thanks for the cake recipe. Looks delish! I'm part of Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen if you ever have a chance to click over there...


  4. I adore culinary fiction too! Joanna Carl's chocolate series is set in a fictional city in my home state. Oh how I wish I could go visit that chocolate shop!

    I like my endings neat and tidy and cozy mysteries always fit the bill.

  5. Sounds a good list, and I'm heading over to the just deserts link. (Of course, I can't spell desert or dessert reliably, but that's another story.)

  6. Elizabeth... exactly! When I sit down to read, I want to feel fulfilled at the end of the book, not confused or annoyed!

    Janel... I will have to try Joanna Carl's books. My first foray into culinary mysteries was Virginia's Rich's books... anyone read The Nantucket Diet Mystery, or The 27 Ingredient Chili-con-Carne Murders?

    Sheila... I was surpised by the 'just deserts' explanation, and I will never misuse the phrase again. I checked it out because I had that little niggle in the back of my brain that said something just wasn't right about 'just desserts'. I should always listen to that little niggle!