Mystery is a genre that’s held in prestige by well-read individuals. Traditionally, mystery books are about a crime or murder that must be solved by a detective or investigator (of sorts); but over time the genre has expanded to where books that involve just enough level of suspense can count as mystery, even if it doesn’t revolve around an investigation. But what is it that attracts people to the mystery genre? We can’t speak for everybody, but we can certainly touch on some of the things that we love about mystery. Be sure to let us know why you love it in the comments.
Who doesn’t love a bit of suspense in their reading? Suspense has the power to keep you turning those pages, sometimes it can even speed up your reading as you become desperate for the pay off. Good suspense is usually built up when the reader has developed a bond with the characters in the story; only to see them thrown into the deep end. As readers build empathy for the characters, their emotional attachment will intensify as they see them put in dangerous or unpleasant situations. It’s also the sense of unfamiliarity, the uncanny affect that is often reserved for horror stories. The uncanny effect is often utilised by mystery books to create an aura of darkness.
In the mystery genre, authors also have it tough because they need to be one step ahead of their reader’s at all times to be able to successfully pull off plot twists. The most enjoyable mystery novels are the ones that give you all the clues to figure out the mystery, but still plant that level of doubt in your mind that you’ve come to the wrong conclusion.
Becoming a detective
Most mystery readers enjoy seeing the mystery through the eyes of the detective/investigator, so they’ll pick up on all the clues and ponder them in real life to come up with all the possible outcomes. This effectively gives you the feeling of becoming a true detective.
You’ll find yourself trying to draw conclusions based on the clues you’ve been given, and this ultimately helps with your judgement and critical thinking skills. As you come to understand more about the murder you may even feel yourself become disgusted by the actions of the murder suspect and feel your own thirst for justice increase.
To keep the story interesting enough for the reader, the characters in the story usually have distinct personality traits that can sometimes translate into vital clues. You also get to explore the darker side of people, and what makes them tick. You get a sense of how well people can harness secrets, while appearing completely normal on a day to day basis.
As you begin to relate to the protagonist(s) and empathise with them more, you’ll feel yourself becoming part of their journey, part of the solution even. A good mystery story also has the power to help you understand the psychological and emotional response to death, and it might even help you understand your own morality in different situations. Death is something that is guaranteed to all life, and mystery books are good at showing us the concept of deaths through the eyes of many other viewpoints.
For further reading, M.T Logan has a list on what makes good mystery, be sure to check it out.
Why do you love mystery? Let us know in the comments below.