Exposing the mystery game

If mystery is your favorite book genre, you’re in good company. Unlike some more niche genres, such as those that involve vampires or a dystopian future, mystery novels are wildly popular around the world, with both women and men. Often, the protagonist is in law enforcement, like a detective, federal agent, or private eye. 

But sometimes an author will choose a private citizen who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and must use bravery and cunning to solve the mystery before they or someone else is harmed. What makes this concept so exciting is that it’s relatable to the reader, who can imagine themselves in the protagonist’s shoes. 

Jane Rosenthal uses this technique in ‘Palace of the Blue Butterfly,” where Lili, a college professor, enjoying a quiet existence in the U.S., receives the shocking news that her sister has gone missing in Mexico. In her quest to find the truth, Lili gets mixed up in her sister’s dangerous and thrilling world, forcing her to discover a strength and courage she never knew she had.  

Why we love mystery

People love reading mystery novels, because the plot is usually fast-paced and involves a complex puzzle for them to solve along with the narrator. A good mystery can be so compelling that you find yourself dragged into the story so thoroughly that you can’t stop reading. And even though new classics are being written all the time, old famous mystery stories never go out of style. 

Classics, such as the Agatha Christie books, published a century ago, and the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, originally published in the late 1800’s, inspire great interest to this day. 

In fact, many of these books have been made recently into movies or television shows. 

Elementary, a program on CBS, adapts Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters, Holmes and Watson, to be current day private investigators living in New York. 

What’s around the next corner

What makes a good mystery story? If you love reading mystery books, you likely have a few favorite authors whose new work you devour as soon as it’s published. Generally it’s because they are the best storytellers, and can spin a plot that has you on the edge of your seat, but you also need to like the characters. 

A good author develops their characters so well that you can picture them in your mind’s eye; how they talk, what they look like, and what drives them. And more importantly, you want them to win; you’re rooting for them to solve the mystery and bring the bad guys to justice. 

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