The Anatomy of a Good Mystery


I have always been a big fan of mystery.

First there was Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Then there was Agatha Christie.  How can one forget Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.

And then there were several other great mystery or action novels:  Alistair Maclean, Arthur Hailey, Michael Crichton, Robin Cook, Erle Stanley Gardner, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dick Francis and more. I always love a good action novel.

A good mystery novel is good, precisely, because there is content, style, characters, and suspense. A good mystery novel needs the suspense, to keep the reader guessing till the last page.

If you notice, you will realize, I named a whole lot of British authors. I have always admired the writing style of British novelists.The writing style is incomparable. The emotions, the sincerity, the dedication, the loyalty, the humor, the romance, the chauvinism and the heroism are undoubtedly the best. The language and style of writing, is by far the best. I rarely enjoy contemporary novels these days:  filled with profanity and sexual adventures, with no meaning or thought.

A good mystery, on the other hand, maintains the suspense from page one to the end, keeps the reader guessing and has substance. It does not need to lower itself to subservient levels or the level of the lowest reader. It can be intelligent. Most readers of mystery novels are intelligent. Each character is there because he or she serves some purpose. Each character is complete and well defined by the author.

Each character is there because the author wants them to be there. They serve a purpose and exactly that.

A good mystery exists for itself. A good author writes to the best of his or her ability.

Write for yourself, and you will find the appropriate readers who will like it!

Believe me, you will not care for any other readers!

4 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Good Mystery

  1. Aruna Panangipally October 27, 2014 / 3:49 am

    This post so resonated with me. I love all the authors you have mentioned. Like you I have almost given up reading modern mysteries. Many of them just seem to be about the body count.

    I am so glad to see the name of Dick Francis on your list. I believe he is one of the most underrated authors of our time.

    If you do come across any good authors, do let me know and I will do the same.

    Like

    • flynthings October 27, 2014 / 8:57 pm

      Aruna, you might already know that Felix Francis continues to write in his father’s name, but not of the same caliber. Also recently, I’ve started reading John Francome, similar to Dick Francis, but again of not same caliber. I have only read two of his books so far. He was a jockey too, and his stories are set on the race track.

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  2. Bernice October 27, 2014 / 4:44 pm

    I love a good mystery – a who done it book! I don’t care for shows like CSI – much prefer an old fashioned mystery.

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    • flynthings October 27, 2014 / 8:58 pm

      Bernice, me too… Nothing beats a good old fashioned mystery 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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