Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Post! Margo Smith, The Fiction of Mysteries

I have learned to love mysteries. I like to read them or watch them. I can’t get enough of a good Agatha Christie, either on screen or in print. I need a good dose of a mystery novel or “Monk,” “NCIS,” “Midsomer Murders,” and “Inspector Lewis” quite often or I get a bit edgy. A bit excessive you say? Perhaps it is.

I got to thinking about what the draw is for me. Christie – perhaps the most published mystery writer to date – pokes fun of mysteries herself in her books as being a lesser form of reading. For someone whose favorite books of all time are Hugo’s Les Misérables and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, how did I become such a mystery hound? It isn’t the gore – I usually look away during those parts. I spend a good time while watching NCIS with my eyes averted actually. It is not the plot – once you have seen enough of any one of these, you can generally make some pretty close predictions for the outcome. I do love a good and completely unexpected plot twist, I’ll admit. Is it the characters? In the case of Monk, perhaps the answer is yes. But it is still something else for me.

What is it? Upon further reflection, I came to realize that it is the resolution at the end. Oscar Wilde said it best, “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means.” Now there are frequently some good people who don’t make it to the end of a mystery, but the person responsible is always caught or at least known. Unlike real life, we are not left dangling or with something unresolved. They are fairy tales for adults. I guess I still like fairy tales where it is all summed up for me and the bad guys have to pay, while I cheer on the good guys. It’s simple, it’s direct and it’s all wrapped up neatly. That is why I love mysteries.

About the Author
Margo Smith graduated with a B.S. degree from BYU. Working through college and being in the corporate world give her a great deal to say about subjects as diverse as employee motivation to online schools to kite making.

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