Since I’m an avid reader, I’ll pretty much read any type of genre of books. Children’s, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, horror, even some non-fiction if the subject is interesting.
But there’s one genre that I just cannot get into, no matter how many times I try. The Mystery Novel.
This has never made sense to me. I like mysteries. I like the whole “whodunit” nature of a story in movies and TV shows, so you would think I would enjoy reading about them. But I just can’t.
For example, I always stumble upon a quaint and sometimes adorable mystery series at the library. I say “quaint” and “adorable” because the author has taken an everyday activity like sewing or cooking and created a mystery around it, usually some kind of murder. They call the series something like “A Victorian Equestrian Mystery” or “A Coffee Shop Mystery” and put an adorable cover on the book, like a sheet of cookies and a glass of milk…with a bloody knife next to it.
Look closely. The gingerbread man’s head is missing.
These books are always set in adorable, cozy little villages with names like Cabot Cove or Three Pines where everyone knows everyone, therefore anyone could be the killer! And there’s always a bunch of kooky characters that give the book some charm and wit, even though I struggle to find that when I try to read them. Oh, and don’t forget the clever puns that make up the book’s title, like Sew Deadly and Bookmarked for Death.
This one is particularly frightening.
I found a great website that covers all things mystery called The Cozy Mystery, and it goes through every type of “cozy” mystery that has ever been written. They even break down the themes for you, so if you’re in the mood for a culinary mystery, you know which ones to look for. Here are some of the different themes you might encounter:
British-English Cozy Mysteries
Animal Mysteries (kittens, dogs, horses, birds, pet stores, veterinarian)
And they’re magical, too!
Paranormal Mysteries (ghosts, psychics, vampires/werewolves, witches)
Hobby Mysteries (Antiquing, camping, beading, candle/soap-making, crossword puzzles, gardening, needlework, golfing, Sudoku)
Ha ha…I get it.
Professional/Career Mysteries (accountants, bookstore owners, dancers, librarians, photographers, teachers)
Basically mystery writers leave no stone unturned. I guess the good thing is that the books are specialized enough where a reader will be able to find something to which they can relate. I see these books at bookstores and think, “Oh, I love tea! I bet I would love this series.” Or, “Jane Austen as a 19th century mystery detective? That sounds awesome! Why wouldn’t I love these books?”
Sounds deadly fun.
And then I check some out at the library, convincing myself that they’re going to be just as quaint and exciting as the cover and title…and they never are. It’s always such a let-down, too, because to me they had so much potential. The cute hobby, the tempting cover…the boring plotline.
I tried reading the first Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron because a) I liked the cover, and b) I liked the idea of Jane running solving mysteries while she’s writing some of her greatest work.
I got through the first one, but it took an excruciatingly long time to finish, and I started to dread reading the second one (I was so optimistic about the series that I checked out the first three at the same time). I started the second one, read maybe two chapters, and then gave up and went back to Lord of the Rings.
I let a few months go by until I started another mystery series, this one called The Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. Again, I was attracted by the cover and subject matter and actually got through two of them before getting bored and going back to Harry Potter.
Now with coffee-making tips!
The last mystery series I tried was about five years ago when I picked up the first book of The Lady Georgiana Mysteries by Rhys Bowen, Her Royal Spyness, which takes place in 1930s London. I was actually really surprised that I enjoyed it. I actually enjoyed reading it! Maybe it was because the heroine was closer to my age and was likable and feisty, and 1930s London seems like a pretty awesome time period.
And of course I loved the cover.
I read the second one, A Royal Pain, which I also enjoyed, and I really thought that this series would break down the wall between me and the mystery genre. I thought that after this series, I would start to like all the other mysteries I read, therefore opening a whole world of new books for me to read.
Could this break the spell?
It didn’t happen. I never read the third book because when I finished the second one, the third one hadn’t been published yet. And then I eventually forgot about it, moved on to other books, and haven’t touched a mystery book since.
I tell myself it’s because I’m not a 60-year-woman. Have you ever noticed that older women love to read mysteries? I used to go to book sales with my mother-in-law, and the only authors she would look for were Patricia Cornwell or Janet Evanovich and other mainstream authors. And then she would trade them with her friends.
Why are these women reading mysteries and not romances? Why aren’t they reading biographies or classics? Does this mean that once I turn 60 I’m finally going to realize what the fuss is all about? Am I going to find that mystery series about blogging and think, “Oh, well, here’s a series for me”…and then devour it?
I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now – unless I find one that truly grabs me and keeps me interested for more than one book – I’m staying away.
Sticking to this.