When is a Mystery not a Mystery?

Mystery When I read I want to be show a different world, to lose myself in the author’s mind for a while. If it’s Romance then it needs to be romantic, if it’s a Sci-Fi then it needs to show me somewhere outside the norm, if it is a Horror, then I need to be scary out of my totes and it is a Mystery then it needs to be a puzzle with a conclusion.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, Editor Lee Child’. The twenty stories were supposedly written by the hottest new talent and literary  legends. The stunning collection was guaranteed to keep you gripped until the last page. We were told on inside sleeve that if you’re a fan of crime fiction, American fiction, or just great fiction, this is one book you can’t afford to be without.

Well, all I can say is I’m mystified by how any of these stories made it into the book with the word ‘Mystery’ in its title.  Here are four I found interesting and stood out a little from the rest, but were far from outstanding in themselves.  The House on Pine Terrace by Phillip Margolin, was disappointing because I could tell less than half way into the story what the outcome was going to be.

Lyndsay Faye’s The Case of Colonel Warbuston’s Madness a copy in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story, but set in America was well written that I was able to lose myself in her writing, but here again, I found myself reading an imitation of a Sherlock story.  This might have been the idea behind the story, but as a reader I would rather read Sir Conan Doyle own work.

Killing Time by Jon Land was another well-trodden path with no new twist.

For me the only story out of the twenty that kept me gripped and turning the pages with tiny hint of excitement was Dennis Lehane’s Animal Rescue but I wouldn’t have called it a Mystery.

The only saving grace this book has for me, is the fact it is signed by Lee Child himself when I met him at the Harrogate Crime writing Festival last year that I will find room for it on my book shelf, another wise it would have gone to our local charity shop.

To me, a mystery is defined by our own English writer, Margery Allingham. “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry, and a conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”  

A mystery isn’t suppose to leave the reader puzzled by just what the story was all about as these ones did for me.

The book I’ve picked up next is called ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ the title alone is a Mystery which had me hooked the moment I saw it in the shop. Going by the cover alone the book has had many great reviews, but I hate to read these as I don’t want to be put off it as I enjoy forming on own opinions of it.

I shall, of course, come back and let you know if I’m going to add it to my list of brilliant books.

Have a great day.  Here the sky is overcast and looks very grey 😦

Paula R C

2 thoughts on “When is a Mystery not a Mystery?

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    1. Thank you for dropping by, Flighty. We have had a bit of sunshine today, though I haven’t been out as I’ve been working on another competition entry.

      Like

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