I’ve read several mysteries recently; some were tightly written and filled with memorable characters, but others were predictable or uninteresting. I plan to review the mysteries I’ve read in the past 6 weeks later this week.

What do you think makes for a good mystery?

Do you have a favorite detective story or author?


3 thoughts on “Whodunit?

  1. A good mystery contains the clues a reader needs to guess the ending, but still keeps the reader guessing. If I guess the ending and I’m right, I usually stop reading things by that author, at least for a while. If I get to the ending and can’t understand why or how the detective figured out it, then I get frustrated and quit reading. For example, I read a story with my students where the detective figured out that a particular character wasn’t from San Francisco because that character referred to San Francisco as “‘frisco.” Now that I’ve lived in the city, I know that this is a major SF faux pas, but never before had I been exposed to that information, and from my contact with the tourist crowd there, I’d hazard a guess that most other people haven’t, either.

    My favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, although I don’t read mysteries as a general rule. It’s more like I go through a mystery phase where I’ll read 10-15 of them in a row and then become tired of them and choose something else.

  2. I agree with Jenni. I like a mystery to surprise me but also to be based on solid clues hidden within the story, not to be a deus ex machina.

    I really enjoy Agatha Christie. Another favorite is Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael series set in 12th century England. I like Mary Stewart too, although I’m not sure if hers truly fit in the mystery category. They have mystery but also contain romance and adventure.

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