By Jenny Hilborne
In a literary sense, the word mystery always brings to mind the word murder. For me, the two go hand in hand, as comfortably as Mr. and Mrs. or Tom and Jerry. A good murder mystery usually includes a corpse pretty early in the story. The tension and suspense increase as the investigation takes place, culminating (hopefully) in a satisfying conclusion. Readers like me enjoy the dark, twisted elements of a murder and the psychology behind it, the thoughts of the killer.
Not everyone likes to read the strong language that usually goes along with a dark murder, or the graphic violence some authors include, which is understandable. Recently, a different question was raised in a forum I came across, which made me think. The reader asked if a good mystery always has to include a murder. I'd never thought about it before. I've never read a book or watched a movie where the mystery did not involve a murder. Not that I'm bloodthirsty or anything, but my initial thought was, 'how dull.'
I tried to imagine a good detective story with a crime other than murder. With no investigation and no body, how would it start? Other crimes could include theft, kidnapping, or a disappearance, but they all seem a bit flat to me. Not enough, I suspect, to hold my interest for the length of a novel. Maybe for a child, a mystery without a murder would be appealing read. It doesn't grab me.
I do like to be shocked when I read, which is one of the reasons I love mysteries and thrillers. Violence and bad language, as long as they fit the story and are not there just for the shock value, are fine. Murder is the most shocking crime of all for me and I can't imagine enjoying a mystery without a murder. What are your thoughts? What great mysteries have you read that don't include a single murder? If you haven't read one, do you think you'd find it satisfying?