Are we all armchair detectives at heart?
I don’t know about you but I have always loved a mystery. Whether it was why Mrs Stefanski from down the street was so secretive about where she bought her spring bulbs or how my dog Rusty ended up in the willow tree, nothing has ever gotten my engines roaring like a mystery.
Maybe it’s genetic?
My dad was a diehard Mickey Spillane fan and various other mystery writers. Both Mom and Dad couldn’t pass up a crossword puzzle without trying to work it and the whole family regularly gathered around the TV to watch shows like:
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The Avengers
- The Saint
- Twilight Zone
- The Fugitive
- I Spy
So it could be that some humans just possess the mystery gene. Anything is possible, right?
Maybe it’s just human nature
Personally, I think people love mysteries because it’s just part of human nature. We humans are a curious lot and what could make you more curious than a mystery, whether it’s a story, a true crime or just something that puzzles you – a mystery sucks you in. Curiosity has killed more than the cat.
Another part of human nature is that we like to solve things. Of all the creatures on the earth, I think humans are the only creatures that must solve problems, whether they are their own or belong to others. In real life, though that kind of behavior can get you in a big vat of boiling water. It’s much easier to read a mystery and try to solve the imaginary problem of whodunit – and when you do, you feel so clever too! It’s a win-win situation.
And lastly, I think people love mysteries because typically justice is served in the end. The bad guy is caught and gets his or her just deserts, the loose ends are tied up and everything leads to a logical conclusion. Again, in life you could seriously hurt yourself trying to get any kind of justice – but reading a book that’s not risky at all. It satisfies our need to see things set right and nobody else even has to be involved.
Personally, I love mysteries for all of the above reasons and also because reading mysteries has helped me develop my own critical thinking. It has taught me how to evaluate information, examination things below the surface and take random pieces of information and form a picture that leads to a solution. Of course, this is my own belief and no scientists were harmed in reaching this conclusion.
Why do you love mysteries?
But how about you? Do you love mysteries? Why? Would you rather read a mystery over any other type of book? What’s the best mystery story ever written? I’d love to know what you think.