Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Mystery

This may sound weird, but there are few tales more comforting than mystery novels. Huh? you may say. What's comforting about people getting bumped off? I'm not talking about the murder part, but the way peace is so reassuringly and neatly restored in the last chapter, as the killer is caught, the evil-doers punished, and the good guys allowed to live in peace. It's completely unrealistic, of course, this black and white sort of happy ending. But that's part of what makes it so satisfying. Another thing you can always depend upon in a mystery is some ordinary person cracking the case instead of the police. The police, since the time of Sherlock Holmes and maybe even before, have always been dubbed as bumbling fools.

During the last leg of my craft show this week I finished reading Sweet Revenge, by Diane Mott Davidson. Like most of the mysteries I read, it's what's known as a "cozy," which is to say that it centers around the adventures of a small town heroine, in this case a caterer. (My other favorite cozy series, penned by the hilarious Mary Daheim, stars a bed-and-breakfast owner.) In addition to the blood-curdling plot lines, the Davidson books have the benefit of mouth-watering gourmet recipes, the very same ones used by Goldy Shulz herself, caterer extraordinaire. I have yet to try any, mostly because they're so complicated, but the vicarious experience of reading about them is almost as good.

This is probably a good place to admit that I never figured out this mystery, or for that matter, any mystery I read. My mom claims this is because I don't want to figure them out, instead preferring that "Ohmygosh!" feeling that comes with a surprise ending. But she's being too kind. I know that I don't have the kind of logical mind necessary to decipher puzzles. Of course, sometimes I think that the authors write the stories in such a way that they can't be figured out. There's always some obscure detail surfacing at the eleventh hour, like the victim's great aunt isn't dead after all, but living in Zimbabwe with a plastic surgery-altered face under an assumed name. You know what, though? I think I do kind of like the idea of not knowing what's going to happen next, all the while waiting for the deus ex machina ending to come swooping down to set the world right again.
So, what do you guys like to read? I know this is meant to be a craft and style blog, but there are bound to be some readers out there.

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