Mystery + Something Else

Releasing May 30, 2016
Since E. A. Poe wrote the first mystery, the genre has been popular with readers. Though most of us will never deal with murder and wouldn't want to, we like peering over someone's shoulder as he or she pokes into a crime, unearthing secrets and eventually the perpetrator.
We began with police officers, whose involvement is logical, since they're paid to find out whodunit. The genre soon picked up private investigators, who also get paid but aren't as hemmed in by rules as the coppers.
Then came the amateur detective, someone who should be doing something else, like writing novels (Jessica Fletcher) or Miss Marple (making tea?). They're often just plain nosy, but they can also be clever and fun. Of course there are those who are falsely accused, or connected to someone who is, but that usually works only once (unless you're Jessica Fletcher's nephew).
Today's mysteries spread across all those lines. There are lots of police procedurals, and in many books PIs, lawyers, medical examiners, and even facial reconstructionists get involved in chasing down a killer.
There's also a wide variety of amateurs in the mix: flower arrangers, antique shop owners, coffee brewers, librarians, farmers, quilters, and many more. What do they have to do with murder?
Not much, but readers who love mysteries want more books, so authors who write mysteries keep trying to come up with new slants, which includes "Here's something else you might find interesting."
Whatever an author chooses for Something Else is fine with me, but I do make reading choices based on it. It's difficult for me to believe that a candy store owner would be involved in solving a murder in the course of her life, so while I might read one, I'm not likely to read a series. A book with a blind sleuth was interesting, but I didn't see him going on to solve more crimes so I skipped the sequel. And when an author announces, "I've released my 36th shopping mystery," I think, "Really?"
I am in the minority here. People wait with bated breath for the next book in these series, so I do not pass judgment on the authors who write them. However, I can't imagine doing that myself.
My "hook" (that's what agents call it) is sisterhood, which works for a majority of the population. In addition, my sisters are private investigators, which gives them a reason to stick their noses into other people's business. There will never be dozens of Sleuth Sisters mystery books, but for now I'm comfortable with continuing the series. After all, private detectives get cases handed to them, and the Something Else between sisters just goes on and on.


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