Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why I Don't Read Mysteries

When people ask me what I read, I always say "anything but a mystery". And it's true. I don't read many thriller or horror books, but I'll read one rarely. I never read mysteries. I just can't get into them. After some mulling over, here are my reasons why.

  • Skipping Ahead
    I'm one of those people who invariably skips around in books. Usually when I'm between 1/3rd and 1/2 way through, I skip and read the last 5-10 pages. If I'm in a particularly tense (or boring) moment, I'll pop ahead 20 pages or so to see if it resolves okay (or picks up). This is a bit harder to do on my ereader (a Nook) and on audiobooks. I might be able to handle a mystery in one of those formats, but maybe not. When I'm reading ahead on any type of book but a mystery, knowing the ending only makes it sweeter because I can't wait to see how they get there. With a mystery, it kills it for me.

  • The Helpful Civilian/Amateur Detective
    There are many series mysteries that featuring detectives, forensic investigators, and the like. That I have no problem with. What irks me are the series that feature ordinary citizens who become amateur detectives. There is always someone, like an antiques dealer, who is continually running into murders, arson, and other assorted crimes as they go about their daily business. I've never been even tangentially close to a murder or arson case and if I did, I'd probably run the other way trusting that the boys in blue would take care of it, but not so our amateur sleuths. And the police never seem to mind their help, in fact they welcome it.

    If there is anything I know about police work, it is that they welcome help from untrained community members. At no point would they stop to question why this particular antique dealer comes across a dead body with every estate sale find. They would instead rejoice that their burden is lightened by some random stranger. (This entire paragraph should be read in the sarcasm font.)

    This leads me to my next point (which is really a side note/rant)...

  • A Side Rant on Angela Lansbury
    I used to love watching Murder, She Wrote as a kid. A kindly, grandmotherly woman who solves mysteries? Perfect. As an adult though, I have some questions. If you were friends with Angela Lansbury, wouldn't you at some point say, "Dear Angela, you're very sweet, I treasure our friendship, but wherever you go dead bodies appear. I am uninviting you to the weekend getaway at our country house and am going to ask you to never contact me again." I've also developed two theories about her.
    1. Angela Lansbury is being stalked by a serial killer. This killer passionately loves our heroine and kills for her. He then leaves enough evidence framing someone else that the object of his affection can (incorrectly) identify a culprit and be hailed a hero.
    2. Angela Lansbury is a serial killer, but she's had a psychotic break and is entirely unaware of it (like Fight Club). She's been framing people for her murders for years, no wonder she can always catch the "killer" before the police - she's planting the evidence!

  • Handling Reader's Advisory
    Now while I don't read mysteries, millions of patrons do. These patrons are deserving of my help when they come to the library desk seeking a recommendation for the next book to read. When I was a youth librarian, I tried reading a few mysteries. (Children's books are shorter). Though I imagine that if the police are thrilled about adult amateur sleuths, they must be over the moon to have the help of minors. However The Westing Game by Raskin is the only mystery book I've ever enjoyed. As an adult services librarian, I concentrate on reading reviews, blogs, articles and the like to keep me up to date on trends in mysteries. It works well enough. You can't be an expert in everything. Sometimes being a generalist means getting an overview instead of an in depth look.

1 comment:

Francesca said...

Totally with you on "Murder She Wrote." I would never have invited her anywhere. My ex-husband and I used to call it "Murder She Committed" or "Murder She Hoped."