A while ago I pondered the question of what attracts us to the Modern Mystery, so having reached a conclussion I wanted to share it with you. As such I hope you'll enjoy the case: The Leaf Killers...
There’s nothing grander than a mystery or thriller when you want to get the blood pumping and try to relax from the stresses of the real world after a hard days slog. Whether it’s high octane murder mystery like Rizolli faces or you prefer the more sedate and Victorian singularity of Holmes, there’s nothing finer than a glass of your favourite tipple, a snug place to relax and a book to keep you guessing to the last.
Partly I suspect that it’s one of the reasons why we all feel so drawn to it, another part is that we all seem to have a fascination with the darker murderous aspect of the macabre that keeps us wanting to see more of things that leave us disturbed. After all, we’ve all be raised on stories of death, murder and bloodshed in one form or another, whether it’s the fairy-tales that were read to you as a child or perhaps even the lessons learned from Sunday school (which all it feels like it taught me was “Do unto others as they would do unto you” with the modern addition of “But do it first.”)
Personally I love a story where I get to walk on the wild side, to dance with the devil without the risk and I suspect that deep down it’s the simplicity that usually has the villain getting their comeuppance in a world where too often they get away with it. There’s always a reason, perhaps possibly a prevented sense of logic to our modern mind but we always love to be bamboozled to the last which happens so often in crime books where it feels like it’s us (the reader) against the author who try their magical tricks out on us, the slight of hand directing us one way whilst doing something with the other. We like to test our mental power against the logistics and almost feel disappointed when we beat the writer to the punch.
Or perhaps it is the darker side of our psyche as we slink into the background with the killer, stalking the victim and then admire their macabre art as each scene is discovered. Whichever reason you pick there’s probably a whole psychological course out there available. Yet, over the years, the crime novel has evolved from the simplistic Three Apples (as told by Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights) through to modern tales by authors like Chelsea Cain where we get the book from mostly the serial killers point of view, right through to the almost tributary Faber titles by Craig Russell who weaves mysterious murders into his own modern Police thrillers (almost Doylesque in their own way.)
Personally I love a book that takes me on a journey, I love to be driven slightly mad as I figure out the solution to a mystery or the identity of a murderer and perhaps best of all the only real victim of the tale are trees or electrons (depending on your medium of choice.) Crime is often said to not pay, apparently whoever said that was very wrong, as to be honest it has and will continue to do so for a great many writers in years to come.