Feb 15, 2008


It seems lately that more and more I am talking about the mystery genre to people. People who are not swimming in it the way Ruth and I are or the way our friends are.

It set my mnd going in a couple directions.
I often get asked to name favorites. Favorite books, favorite authors even favorite sub genres. I occurs to me that it's like my taste in music. While I like jazz, country and classical, even some opera what I listen to most is rock and roll or some variation of it. So while you can break it down to heavy metal or new wave or pop or hip hop or punk or what have you, it's all rock and roll. And for me so is the mystery genre. Thrillers are kind of like speed metal, traditional mysteries kind of like the Beatles, and I'm sure there are other comparisons to be made. I'm eclectic in what I like, in truth there isn't a lot I can say that I don't like. I do have favorites, but its a rotation. The pile near my stero has Flock of Seagulls, Mettallica, Joe Jackson, Abba, George Harrison, Drive by Truckers and Yes. Tommorrows pile will be different. So to will my reading trends.

I go on PI kicks, engulfing Pronzini and Esteleman and Randisi. Marcia Muller and Laura Lippman.
And then I need to change it up and I switch gears to Denise Swanson and Joanna Campbell Slan (who's next book, Paper Scissors Death is great)

Suddenly I'll need a different accent and I read McDermid and Kernick and Denise Mina and Stuart McBride.

Jim Butcher and Simon Green take me to a whole other place along side Kat Richardson and Charlaine Harris.

Authors like Sean Chercover and Blake Crouch and John Connolly not only entertain but make me think about myself facing adversity.

Reed Coleman makes me cry and cheer. So does Ken Bruen.

Brian Azzarello makes me hold my breath.

Greg Rucka and Lee Child make sme feel strong and safe.

And Brian Wiprud makes me laugh. (thanks Brian)

AM I leaving anyone out? Of course I am. like my music collection my library here at Casa Jordan has hundereds of artists to choose from. But these artists use words instead of paint or sounds from instruments.

So what is it about the mystery genre that appeals?

I don't have a definitive answer, I don't think there is one. That won't stop me from going on with this though...

Most crime fiction has lead characters that do one of two things. They make you want to root for them to succed, or they captivate you in such a way you can not stop following where they go. Character is everything. The protaganist can be over the top or ever so sublime. But they have to get your attention, and then keep it. You need to care what's going to happen to them.

Theres also the aspect of justice. In everyday life we don't always get it. Often we see things that are just wrong. Usually (not always) by the end of a book we are given some form of justice, either within the legal system or out of it. I think its satisying in the way comfort foods are satisfying. Work sucked today, but when I got home and started reading Jack Reacher made a piece of the world ok again.

I think the thing that mystery has over "literature" is a form of sorts, I've read enough books that seem to wander without really going anywhere. They may say some interesting things, but really, at the end I feel like I'm in the sam eplace as when I started. Not with mysteries. By the end I've gotten down and dirty and come back again, or I've solved a puzzle or I've seen determination pay off, but there is always a payoff. The journey I sarted with the protaganist went some where.

I was also thinking about how starting a new series or a new book is a little like dating. We have the speed dating at the book store where in a very short time in the space of a book jacket and cover I'm going to decide if we see each other again. A lot of books don't get that call. But theres always at least one who I want to spend the night with. Listening to the secrets to be shared. ANd in a lot of cases I think about our time together fondly later. And if I'm licky I see them again a year later with a new jacket and we go out again. More often than not they have all sorts of new thing to say to me, and I listen, savoring the words.
The wonderful thing about this kind of dating is that monogomy is not a factor.

It's late, I'm rambling.

Go read!

1 comment:

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


This is the best Valentine's Day gift I could ever get--a kind word for you about my new series. Thanks so much. I'm just thrilled you like Paper, Scissors, Death.