Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Do We Love Mysteries

Of course I’m speaking about fictional mysteries, I don’t think we like real-life mysteries if they happen to us.

I have no idea what other’s reasons for loving mysteries are–but I do know mine. There are very few mysteries that I don’t care for and those are the ones where the mystery isn’t really solved, or the bad person, perpetrator of the crime, the villain, manages to get away to come back another day.

Though I do really like on-going series–after all, I write two of them myself– I prefer for each book to be complete in itself. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some ongoing plots in the life of some of the characters, I just want the major crime to be solved.

In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Tempe and her husband Hutch sometimes go through rough patches because of their different belief systems. Hutch is a Christian pastor with strong faith. Tempe uses some of the mystical and supernatural aspects of her Native American heritage to solve crimes. Slowly, he is coming to terms with some of Tempe’s experiences, like her ability to see spirits, though he often has deep concern for the health of her soul. Whatever the major crime may be in a book, Tempe will find out the truth by the time the reader reaches the last page as you’ll see if you read the latest in the series, Kindred Spirits. Though the guilty party has in essence planned the perfect murder, Tempe continues on until he reveals himself.

Because the Rocky Bluff P.D. is about the men and women in the police department and their families rather than just one hero or heroine, focusing on someone different and several crimes in each book, there are many ongoing stories as these people live out their lives on the job and at home. My main theme in each book has been to show how what goes on in the family affects the job and how the job affects the family. The most growth shown in a character has been Detective Doug Milligan, who in the first book, Final Respects, is a street cop who loses his best friend and his wife. In the fourth book, Smell of Death, Doug becomes interested in a female officer who is the first on the scene of two murders. In some of the other books, Doug is merely a supporting character, with other officers in the forefront.

No matter which series I’m writing, you can be sure the bad guy or gal will get it in the end. This is important to me for two reasons–in real life things don’t always turn out for the best or the way they should. Bad guys do get away with murder. I want better endings in the books I read and the ones I write.

The second reason is I have no control over the world I live in–my smaller world containing my friends and family–or the big outside world. When I’m writing, I’m in control–more or less. I must admit, sometimes the characters lead me in directions I never expected, but that’s a whole other blog.

And that’s why I love mysteries. What's your reason?



Morgan Mandel said...

It's kind of nice to know whatever craziness happens in the mystery, everything will be sorted out by the end.

Morgan Mandel

Mark said...

I read to find out about the characters. It's not necessary to me that the story be a mystery, but there tends to be more at stake in a mystery and that makes for more interesting characters.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Mysteries are interactive stories which involve both writer and reader in solving the crimes). That's what I like most about mysteries. Keeping the reader on tender hooks until the mystery is resolved.:)

Jean Henry Mead

Other Lisa said...

Mysteries by definition have a structure to them - the weak point of a lot of "literary" fiction IMO - and mysteries frequently grapple with all kinds of big issues. It's a great combination.

Dana Fredsti said...

I have never really given the matter a lot of thought - I just like what I like. But I DO love your point about being able to have the bad guys get theirs in the end! And Other Lisa's point was a good one too. I guess I also just love the suspense I feel when I'm reading a good mystery - I just finished Jean's A VILLAGE SHATTERED and she did a stellar job of keeping the reader guessing!

Libby McKinmer said...

I really enjoyed meeting Tempe and Hutch, and how they blend their belief systems to make a successful team.

I think I like mysteries because the bad guy gets his just desserts in the end, even if the book is part of a series. Makes for a satisfying ending in a world where it sometimes looks like bad guys get away with things longer than we think fair.