My friend and collaborator Kate Kasten and I wrote a Nancy Drew satire called The Clue in the Old Birdbath. First it was a stage play, then we wrote lyrics and music and it became a musical. One of the songs is “Is There a Mystery Here?” and sometimes that song pops into my head. Like when something goes missing from my house, or like yesterday when my cat got into a room where all the doors were shut and no one saw him enter.
But what I’m actually writing about here is crime novels (in the US we call them mysteries) and their readers. When I read mysteries before I started writing them, I always tried to hold the clues in my head and solve the mystery before I got to the end. Now that I write them, I try to coast through the book, hoping NOT to solve the mystery. I want to be surprised.
Which is your preference? My daughter likes to solve the puzzle before she gets to the end, but she will enjoy the book anyway even if she figured it out early on. My dad always read the ends of his books to make sure he was going to like them. I’ve never met anyone else with that particular penchant.
Here are a few of my favorite crime novels/mysteries:
- A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
- The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
- The Hounding of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle
- Miss Pim Disposes by Josephine Tey (who was herself a mystery)
- The Lord Wimsey and Harriet Vane novels by Dorothy L. Sayers
- The Gun Series by Lori L. Lake
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin
Feel free to share your favorites here. I’m always looking for a new author with work to devour. I’m not much of a cozy fan, but did enjoy some of Agatha Christie’s works. And I read them all, because back then, I never stopped reading a book once I’d started. Now I find life is too short!