Monday, October 13, 2008

The Lure of the Mystery

I love mysteries.  I always have.  I started out with those Encyclopedia Brown books in first grade.  I thought it was so clever the way Encyclopedia solved one case by realizing the reflection in a spoon is upside down.

Then I moved on to Nancy Drew.  Nancy was IT for a long time.  She was determined, smart, had great titian hair (a word I had to look up in the dictionary in second grade), and even had a neat boyfriend, Ned (who wisely didn't discourage Nancy from crime-fighting.)  The books had just the right level of spookiness and danger.  Sometimes I had trouble going to sleep, but that was mostly because I wanted to go on reading and find out what happened next.  I read all of the books in the series--many more than once.

After Nancy came Trixie Belden.  Trixie was different.  She sometimes got in trouble with her parents, and even with her much-older brother, Brian.  They were more of the "meddlesome kid" variety of detective (sort of like the Scooby Doo kids.)  These books had strong characterizations, cool plots, but maybe weren't quite as spooky as Nancy.  Well, there was one in particular that gave me chills, but I'm talking generalities here. 

Once I found Agatha Christie, I was hooked.  I had to read all of her books immediately.  Hercule Poirot and his odd idiosyncrasies was my favorite, but Miss Marple came in as a close second.  Some of her books scared me to death.  I really couldn't sleep after several of them, and it wasn't just because I wanted to go on reading.  It was because Mrs. Christie had totally freaked me out.  I remember one, not even one of her well-known books, where we discovered at the end that the narrator was the killer...he was psychotic.  Arghhhhh!!  I was up for hours.  And loved it.  

Since then, I've had many favorite mystery series.  Mysteries remain my favorite genre for one major reason: escapism. By identifying with the sleuth/detective/police, I can be plunged into danger in the pages of a book and escape by the skin of my teeth.  It's terrific stress relief. All of your tension can be tied up in this one place....and you know that somehow everything will work out in the end. 

Right now I'm in between books and I've got to go shopping for more.  It's been a rough week, news-wise.  I watch waaayyyyy too much television news and after a week like the past one, I need a good mystery to dive into.  If I'm trying to solve a murder, I'm not watching Jim Lehrer or the Dow Jones numbers, and that's an excellent reason to read, right there. 

Places I've hung out online this week: The Renegade Writer blog .  Cool tips on developing a writer website.

The Post MFA Blog  :  Apparently it's pretty rough out there right now for recent Masters of Fine Arts graduates.  As they state in their "About Us": Musings on the daily travails of three MFA graduates. Faced with the unsettling future(s) of to-be-determinedism, we seek plans, jobs, and constant distractions. We hope to share the above in all of its uncensored glory here. For you.


L.C. Evans said...

I used to love Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, too. My sisters and I used to make fun of Nancy's boyfriend Ned. He seemed like a wimp to us.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You know, he was a little wimpy. But I thought maybe he was the sensitive type. I remember one case he found Nancy's missing diary and he didn't even read it. Very gentlemanly, I thought.