Living Mystery

Do you love mysteries? I do.

We are taught to love a good mystery before we can even read. Some of the greatest mysteries ever written are read to children long before they even understand the written word:

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Are You My Mother?
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Little Bo Peep
  • Three Little Kittens
  • Rumplestiltskin
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker

Some of these stories teach children to look for clues. Others teach them to watch the scenes unfold as the main character(s) learn what is happening. All of them walk us through an exciting mystery.

But, wait! Is there a murder in any of those stories?

Let’s move up a few years.

  • Nancy Drew
  • The Hardy Boys
  • Judy Moody
  • The Boxcar Children
  • Encyclopedia Brown

Still, there is seldom any kind of murder, or even a death.

We don’t really begin to see murder as a “symptom” of a mystery until we reach young adult or adult stories. And then, it’s hard to find a mystery without at least one murder. Why is that? Why is it practically a requirement for a mystery to contain a murder? Is it because we can’t come up with anything more exciting than who killed someone? Where is the creativity in writing, these days? What happened?

If you find some good mysteries for young adult and up—you know, the kind with no murders—please, let me know.

2 thoughts on “Living Mystery

  1. This is actually a really interesting question. I don’t have any recommendations, but I agree with you. My nit pick isn’t so much about murders, though, as it is that almost every story seems compelled to include a romantic element, even when the story doesn’t specifically call for one. It seems like a very “first idea that came to the author’s head” call… and I guess the same goes for mysteries, where it always has to be about a death.

    • I agree. The romance is about as common as the murder. I plan to write true mysteries without the murder and maybe even without the romance. Some will be cozy mysteries, but there won’t be a murder in them.

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