Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why Do Readers Love Mystery Thrillers?

by Ana Parker Goodwin

Why do Readers Love MysteryThrillers?

As a person who has studied psychology and worked as a psychotherapist for many years and now writes mystery thrillers, I tend to always come back to the central question, "Why?" Why do so many people love mysteries and mystery thrillers? What is it inside so many of us that attracts us to these books and movies?

Even very young children love mystery books and thrilling adventures. When I was a child I loved to read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boy books and I would spend many hours on the sofa at home curled up with a blanket reading, reading, reading. At school the teacher allowed us to go to the library when we completed our work and my friend and I would race to finish and then race to the library. We would vie to get the newest mystery book on the shelf. Then when I was older I read every Agatha Christie book I could find.

After writing professional books and articles, and retiring from my profession, I began to look around for another challenge. I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I spent many hours studying the art of fiction writing, which is quite different from what I knew. I thought that maybe I would try romance. "That should be easy," I said to my husband. He looked at me with that big question mark on his face like he does when he thinks that I've gone a little out of my mind. I ignored him. Why not, I thought? I know about relationships. I've counseled lots of couples. Even helped them become more romantic.

To make a long story very short, or rather a short story very short, I "sucked" at writing romance. Boring. Every romance story I wrote turned into a mystery with thrilling events that had nothing to do with romance. At last I came back to my husband and asked him to be honest with me. He laughed. "Ana," he said, "You know you have always loved a good mystery. Look at what you read." So I did. Agatha Christie when I was in college, then John Grisham, now Preston and Child.

By the way, I love books that continue with the same character especially when the person is unique like FBI agent Pendergast. And now Preston and Child not only carry the character into the next book, but also the plot. They end many of their books unresolved and continue the story in the next book.(If you like a book that concludes the mystery at the end and makes you feel all fuzzy and satisfied inside, their books are probably not for you.)

Okay. He was right, but why along with so many other people was I drawn to these books?

Before I decided to write mystery thrillers I asked several people I knew why they read mostly books in this genre. What I learned was that most of us had certain things in common.

Here is what I found:

1. We had loved mystery books even as children.

2. We were all very curious about, "What happens next? Who did it?" Some people spent hours trying to figure out the answers.

3. We loved a great mental (analytical) puzzle with lots of twists and turns and unexpected endings. It kept our brains stimulated and exhilarated, and therefore we felt satisfied and happy (most of the time) especially at the end.

4. We loved excitement and these books took us out of our present world into a new world of intrigue, excitement, and conflict  without actually having to risk our own lives and sanity in the process.
So there it is. Mystery Thrillers. I love them. I may be a little weird, but I take comfort in that I am not alone. Millions of people love them as well!

Leave a comment and let me know why you love mysteries or mystery thrillers.

Oh, by the way, why don't you mystery thriller lovers read my book "Justice Forbidden" (only $2.99 on Amazon Kindle) and let me know what you think.


Jennifer Rova said...

Excellent post with good insight into why we love mystery novels. I do not care for the ongoing mystery into the following book as I want to feel satisfied at the end. I am surprised others do not feel the same. Thanks for the insights into this genre.

Ana said...

Thanks Jennifer. I have finished the outline of my next Faythe Bradington book and having a lot of fun creating the plot. All ideas are welcome!