What is a Murder Mystery For?

(This follows on from the post titled You Are Not Alone)

Detective novels. Mysteries. We love them.

Maybe a bit too much.

Sometimes, like a kid with a moth-eaten teddy bear, or a collector with a roomful of cow creamers,

Han Solo Lego Don't make me spend Valentine's Day Solo! Betsy Weber Flickr
or a princess with a big dumb space pilot …

… we wonder why we love them so much.

Of course, as with all questions about human behaviour, there isn’t one clear answer. There isn’t even a list of answers.

There are things we can say about our love of murder mysteries, but they aren’t answers, and it isn’t a list. Instead it’s a huge open-ended set of ideas that intersect and overlap – ideas that enlarge, qualify, refine, enlighten and contradict each other.

A bit like all ideas, really.

Why do we love murder mysteries?

You’ll have your own ideas. Please leave a comment, here or on my Facebook page.

Everyone has their own reasons for enjoying detective fiction, and they won’t all be the same.  In this blog , I want to take some of these reasons out of the shadowy realms of our half-thoughts and examine them.

I’m going to look at some of the reasons that have been suggested by other people. And I’m going to put forward one really big important idea of my own.

That was a plant. See future post on Plant and Payoff.

And I’m doing all this is because …

I don’t think it’s a trivial question.

At least the answer isn’t trivial. Some of these ideas about mysteries are


They’re even a bit

 profound  (not religious).

It’s my hope that, when you finally get to the end of all this, you might find something (if you’re interested in that sort of thing) that explains our love of the murder mystery, and a lot of other things too.

It’s an idea that is old and also new and it’s enormous and life-enhancing

(I repeat, not religious, at least not in the traditional sense of it being about … well, religion). 

window Saint_Patrick


But I’m getting ahead of myself. All that is going to come much much later.

In the next post I’ll get started, and I’ll begin where all good stories begin:

… with a dead body.



Thanks to these people for the images:

“Don’t make me spend Valentine’s Day Solo!” by Betsy Weber on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/betsyweber/16377691195 (Caption removed)

“Geometry design”  by Gerd Altmann  https://pixabay.com/en/geometry-mathematics-cube-1023846/

“Nerve Plant” by Smgrimes – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nerve_Plant.JPG#/media/File:Nerve_Plant.JPG

“Saint Patrick” stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Patrick_(window).jpg

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