Mystery is a Mystery

It’s hard to explain why we like something. To quote a video game, “I like what I like.” End of story.

But we all have different tastes and interests in things. Why? Because we all have different personalities. Why? Well, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the universe that one.

Some people like to watch TV more so than read books. Some people like eating sweets more so than salty snacks. Some people prefer the mystery genre over other genres.

But why? What is it about reading about people getting killed and solving brutal murders and crimes that get us excited?

Mystery is a Mystery - Why do you like mystery novels? Rachel Poli

It’s cooler than it looks.

Most TV shows chalk up the law enforcement to be a lot more fun than what it really is in real life. It’s glamorous, it’s humorous. Sure, the characters get into perilous situations, but they always get out of it. They always win.

Who didn’t want to be a police officer or a detective when they were younger? I know I wanted to be a spy or secret agent when I was a kid. Then I grew up and realized if that ever came true, I’d be cowering behind my partner the entire time.

The world is a scary place. It’s better to follow the main character around in your head and help them solve puzzles while shouting at the TV screen than actually doing so in real life.

The puzzles.

I don’t know about you, but I love sitting on the floor creating a jigsaw puzzle. Or wracking my brain to solve a riddle. I love look-and-find searches whether it’s words or pictures, I enjoy mazes, and I enjoy playing detective games such as the Clue board game or the Ace Attorney or Professor Layton video games series.

Our brains can work in amazing ways and solving puzzles and riddles is just one of those fascinating ways. It’s not easy, you really have to work and think through it. It’s satisfying when you finally so solve a puzzle. You feel accomplished, you feel smart.

I don’t know about you, but if I solve the murder mystery myself before the end of the book, I do a happy dance.

It’s safe.

Whatever you read in a book, whatever you watch on a TV show, you’re safe. It’s not real.

Even if you’re reading a true crime book, you’re still safe in the comfort of your own home. And whatever crime you’re reading about already happened, justice pulled through, it’s over.

I’m sure there are many other reasons why people love mysteries so much. I think, overall, mysteries are great because it’s so interactive with the audience as they try to solve the crime along with the characters.

I could also ask, though, why do you love fantasy so much? Why do you love romance so much? Each answer is going to be different depending on the genre, depending on the person asked.

So…

Why do you love the mystery genre?

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10 Cliches in Mystery Novels

Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?

Sometimes that happens in books, but when that happens it’s called a cliche.

A cliche is something that is overused and has no original thought put into it.

Cliches are everywhere. In books, TV shows, blog posts (like this one), and in real life conversations and actions. Some cliches we can put up with, some we can’t. The bottom line is, they’re never going to go away.

Then again, there are so many ideas out there that there are bound to be some repeats.

I mean, have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?

…Wait….

10 Cliches in Mystery Novels Rachel Poli

Some cliches are easy to avoid, but as stated earlier, some aren’t. There are only so many original ideas out there and the bare bones of most mysteries are similar. So it’s hard to not have a cliche here or there.

There are a lot of cliches to list, especially in any kind of writing, but here are just a few.

1. The hard-core/alcoholic/depressed detective.

Being a police officer or detective is hard work and stressful. We get it, we understand. But not everyone hates their job and there’s a reason they became a detective in the first place. They don’t need to wallow in self-pity or be drunk late in the night in order to have that “a-ha!” moment.

2. The police don’t know how to do their job.

You see this in a lot of superhero-type stories. A bad guy comes along causing chaos. The police try to stop him, they fail miserably at a loss of what to do. Then the good guy comes along and saves the day. The police work a lot harder than we give them credit for. Even if it’s fiction, they know how to do their job.

3. A death is misjudged (example, a homicide ruled as a suicide), but only the protagonist figures out the truth.

As I just stated, police do know how to do their job. Even if a death looks like a suicide, no matter how well the culprit covered it up, there is always evidence. There is always forensics. There are always autopsies and science and common sense.

4. The current case forces the protagonist to confront the past.

The detective has a dark past (that’s probably why he’s depressed and an alcoholic from point number one). He’s been avoiding it his whole life, but this specific case has something or someone come along that makes him go back in time.

5. The detective has some sort of “power” (example, photographic memory, psychic, etc.) that they depend on to solve cases.

Having supernatural-type elements added into the mystery isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you can make it unique enough. But if it seems as though the detective is the only one who can solve the case because he has that photographic memory… there’s a problem somewhere.

6. A female detective who is torn between two hot men whether it’s another cop or a suspect or victim or whatever.

Women fall in love, yes. But men fall in love as well. And just because there’s a sexy female detective does not mean there has to be a romantic love-triangle. You don’t see a hot male detective torn between two women that often, do you? Nope. They’re just staying up way too late drinking the case away.

7. A female character who is eye-candy to the detective, but also a crucial aspect of the crime (plot twist: she’s the culprit!)

Stop making women eye-candy. Just stop.

8. Detectives who have exceptional knowledge of one specific thing and always happen to have cases related to what they know.

The detective minored in cosmetology in school? Oh, cool. There was a murder in a nail salon? Oh, that’s ironic.

9. A rookie partner assigned to a veteran detective after their partner dies.

This happens in real life, this happens in fiction. But every single time, the rookie is way too eager and optimistic to start while the experienced officer is bitter. In the end, the rookie changes his partner’s view on life. How touching.

10. The detective has relationship issues.

They’re separated, divorced, a single parent… Yes, they work long hours and have a stressful job, but don’t they deserve a significant other who wholeheartedly supports them no matter what? It’s not as rare as you would think.

While researching some cliches I realized that I’m guilty of some of these. But you know what? If you can turn it around and make it unique, you should be in the clear.

What are some cliches that bother you or some that you like?

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The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos

Neon Lawyer

Title: The Neon Lawyer
Author: Victor Methos
Genre: Mystery
How I got the book: I bought it on my Kindle

Summary (from Amazon):

With money and hope in short supply, newly minted attorney Brigham Theodore decides it’s time to lower his standards. He joins a seedy fly-by-night firm in Salt Lake City out of desperation. After he loses his first case—a speeding ticket—he’s convinced his career is over. But to his shock, his boss hands him a slightly more complex case: capital murder.

Brigham’s new client is Amanda Pierce, a lost, exhausted woman who gunned down the man who tortured and killed her six-year-old daughter. A jury may prove sympathetic to her unbearable pain, but the law is no fan of vigilante justice—and neither is Vince Dale, the slick and powerful prosecutor who’s never lost a murder case. There’s no question that Amanda pulled the trigger—she did it in front of five witnesses. If she pleads guilty, she will avoid a death sentence, but saving her life this way comes with an admission that what she did was wrong. However, if she refuses the “guilty” label, Brigham will have no choice but to fight for his career—and Amanda’s life.

My Review:

Being only 166 pages, The Neon Lawyer was a quick read. Brigham Theodore is thrown into a high-class, important murder case as his first real case as a lawyer. His client, Amanda Pierce, murdered the man who kidnapped, raped, and killed her six-year-old daughter. How do you win a case like that when even the defendant admits she’s guilty?

While the case was interesting enough, there wasn’t a lot of action going on. It was a good read, but the protagonist didn’t even get the case until 60 or so pages into the novel. As I said earlier, the book is only 166 pages long. They didn’t get to court until there were about 30 pages left of the book. The beginning was slow while the ending went too fast.

However, the court was well-written and I enjoyed the tiffs between Brigham and the prosecutor. I don’t too much about lawyers, court, or the rules of the laws, but this was interesting and kept my attention the whole time.

My only wish for the book was that it was a bit longer. I felt as though so much more could have been done for the case and for the characters. There were some loose ends that I felt weren’t tied up by the end, which makes it feel incomplete.

Also, the last chapter was only four pages long which I didn’t think that was a good enough wrap-up for what happened to all the characters afterward. I would have liked to see an epilogue showcasing what happened to Brigham, the law firm he was apart of, his friends from the firm, as well as his client.

It was a good read, but I definitely think it could have been better.

The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“There was a warm sensation in his gut that he didn’t recognize–maybe something between satisfaction and the beginnings of greed, for someone who had never felt greedy.” –Victor Methos, The Neon Lawyer