June 7, 2012

  • What happened to the mystery genre?

    It has come to my attention that most so-called "mysteries" are not truly worthy of the name, as the author hasn't even made an attempt to scatter clues throughout the book, so that the reader could deduce the identity of the killer if only the puzzle pieces were assembled properly.

    You know, like Agatha Christie was skilled at doing, allowing one to experience the bittersweet feeling of "DANG!  I should have SEEN that!" when Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple revealed the solution.

    Rex Stout was good at creating puzzles.  Emma Lathen, especially in her (actually, "their," as that was the name used by a writing duo) earlier works, was pretty good.

    A few days ago I finished a Laura Childs' book, "Skeleton Letters," and it struck me that I wasn't intended to decipher clues and guess whodunnit.  The reader simply discovers the identity of the villain when the main character does so.  Mulling it over, it dawned on me that most "mysteries" nowadays are essentially suspense novels, not actual mysteries.  

    Does anyone know of a current author who takes the trouble to create a puzzle for the reader to unravel?  confused



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