Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What's In A Mystery?

I read a book called "The Mystery Tomb" recently. Can you guess, it was a mystery? Characters had mysterious backstories. Locations revealed unexpected treasures. Desire and intention collided while truth slipped and slid, awaiting the final reveal. Mystery for sure. "Deadly Spirits" is a mystery driven by a wonderfully human narrator whose favorite spirits come in bottles, but whose life revolves around mysterious deaths. "Raining Men and Corpses"? has to be mystery and humor for sure. Meanwhile "Dead Shot" is a more juvenile mystery-adventure with deeply serious themes.

Then there's "Girl With All The Gifts." But it's that horror isn't it? Except it's also a mystery, filled with the question of how, why or what she is, and how, why or what she might hold as the clue to the future. A mystery that doesn't  resolve all it's clues, Gifts proves all the better perhaps for not doing so, and lingers in the mind. Does that make sense?

"Enemies of the Batsu" doesn't answer all its questions either, in this case because it's part of a series. Never quite revealing what created this futuristic Japanese culture, it drives another forward arc in the direction of finding out.

"Fever Tree" is literary mystery, starting with the curious question of who its protagonist might be, then wending its way to why he is there and where his path will lead. "The Coyote Hunter of Aquidneck Island" offers one mystery to its characters and a completely different one to intrigue the protagonist and reader--definitely literary mystery too.

But what's in a mystery.

The ones I loved most of the books above had great protagonists--flawed, but serious and caring; not too sure of themselves, so I might like them more than they like themselves. Their mysteries range from twistedly complex to simple human nature, but they're neither trivially resolved nor teasingly hidden away. I guess I might look for an honesty in the story that lets me believe it's worth my while trying to work things out as I read. And I like great locations too--as in locations sufficiently described as to seem real and great, not necessarily ones I'd want to visit.

My question, of course--as I contemplate writing mystery and decide I'm probably not good enough--is what's in a mystery for other readers? Why makes you choose one mystery over another, one mystery author, or one type of mystery?

I hope you'll find yourself a coffee as you follow the links above to my reviews on Goodreads:

  1. Mystery Tomb will be best with some complex four-star coffee.
  2. Deadly Spirits deserves a well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star blend
  3. Raining Men and Corpses will go well with some easy-drinking two-star coffee.
  4. Dead Shot needs a mild crisp one-star cup
  5. Girl with All the Gifts needs some rich dark five-star coffee
  6. Enemies of the Batsu probably merits a strong dark five-star drink too
  7. Fever Tree should be read with some elegant, complex four-star coffee
  8. As should the Coyote Hunter of Aquidneck Island.
Enjoy.



No comments: