Literary fiction has never really appealed to me as a reader. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the hard work of writing it or value the dimension it brings by adding breadth to the available reading options, but I simply don’t enjoy reading it. While I will definitely dabble in reading the occasional romance, I lean toward those with a twist, those that fall on the intrigue end of romance novels. Thrillers, mysteries, cozies, steampunk, paranormal? I cannot get enough.
It’s the puzzle. I need the puzzles that are so beautifully crafted in a good mystery or thriller. The highs, the lows, the sharp turns and free falls provide a readerly version of the best roller coasters and the spinniest carnival rides. As a reader, I crave all of these elements. When I read paranormal fiction, it’s paranormal mystery. The romances are intrigues, and so on, but my favorite stories are the ones packed with twists and turns, the ones where I find myself racing to solve the mystery before the author unmasks the villain or truth.
Perhaps that’s why I so adored Agatha Christie and the Sherlock Holmes stories growing up; Christie and Doyle craft amazing puzzles, subtle, twisty, devious puzzles that I can read over and over again. Luckily for me, there are so many wonderful books to choose from, I can’t possibly run out of options! Our own Cynthia Kuhn crafted a delicious mystery set in the sometimes cranky/often inspiring/always competitive world of academics, Semester of Our Discontent, and I’m already planning to re-read it. In Kait Carson’s Hayden Kent Mysteries, she deviously ups the ante by adding a whole new environment to the puzzles: water with her scuba diving heroine! Patricia Briggs adds new life to the paranormal genre with her Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series, and they are seriously addictive.
Oddly enough, my every day life has to be quite orderly, with as few surprises as possible. I’ve been working on mental flexibility–trying not to be annoyed when things don’t go as I’ve planned them. I’m making progress, but I’ve got a ways to go (at least, that’s what my family tells me!). However, I do still love to spend hours working on a solving puzzles, whether crossword or jigsaw (I’m going to do one of those paint can ones someday; you know, the ones that are all one color?).
What draws you to a good mystery?