Mysteries have been around for ages, dating as far back as Edgar Allan Poe penning “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841. It’s recognized as the first modern detective story. And then there’s Arthur Conan Doyle who created the most famous detective of all times, Sherlock Holmes, first appearing in 1887 in “A Study in Scarlet.” Those are the forerunners. Since then many great mysteries have followed.
But the question is, what is it about mysteries that make us love them? When we read them, why can’t put them down? What fascinates us so about mysteries?
I love a good mystery or thriller! I love reading them and I love writing them. I’m no psychologists, but I’m going to play arm-chair psychologist today and take a stab at why we love mysteries.
Most readers love the thrill of the chase, action, and suspense — even danger — as long as it can be enjoyed from a safe distance — from the pages of a book or a movie screen.
I believe it’s in our DNA to problem-solve. As with a puzzle or Rubik’s Cube, we must fit the pieces together. And when we put the pieces together, solve the problem, or figure out “who dunnit” we are affirmed as the intelligent beings we always knew we were.
Mysteries take us on an adventure, an escape. We can live vicariously through the experience of the protagonist, and we can accomplish great and heroic feats through him or her. I have no illusion that I’m a hero in my own little world. That’s why I love stepping into the shoes of a great detective or spy.
When the good guy or girl prevails, all is right with the world for that particular moment after reading these two small words, “The End.” Endorphins surge through our bodies just as they do after eating a decadent piece of chocolate or sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay — or whatever takes you to your happy place. 🙂
I believe writers write mysteries for the same reasons. We want to give readers a delectable memorable experience. We want to offer them a treat for the soul. In my estimation, there’s no higher artistic achievement than that.
So what do you think? Drop me a line tell me why you love to read or write mysteries.