Author Archives: Shannon Esposito

Hair, Hair, Everywhere

Maybe you noticed that we missed our Monday post. That’s because we were moving our site to this new location. Still some boxes to unpack but we’re loving the neighborhood! (Note: It’s really me, Kassandra Lamb. I don’t have a door key. Shannon hasn’t made me one yet, so I had to borrow hers. That’s why it says this is posted by her.) 

Today is just for fun Friday, so let’s talk about hair.

I was cleaning my house the other day because we were having guests over that evening. I vacuumed my bathroom floor, then wet a paper towel and wiped it down, and still I found hairs on the floor! Why is it that hair gets into everything? And that got my bored mind to thinking about hair (it doesn’t take much to distract me from cleaning).

Hair can be very symbolic and can also have a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves.

I have long hair. I am now officially a senior citizen and most women, by my age, have cut their hair into a short, easy-to-care-for style. But I don’t like the way I look in short hair. My mother used to make me cut my hair every spring, insisting it would be cooler during the summer. I hated it! My long slender nose suddenly looked like Pinocchio’s, with a golf ball stuck on the end of it. (I inherited my mother’s nose so maybe it was a “misery loves company” thing for her.) When I was 14, I refused to cut my hair that spring, and I’ve worn it long ever since.

 (Me in 8th grade, the last spring I let my mother talk me into cutting my hair; my 12th grade yearbook picture.)

Of course I look at these pictures now and realize it maybe didn’t make as much difference in how my nose looked as I thought at the time. But you know how it is when you’re a self-conscious 8th grader.

My hair is thick, naturally wavy and very dry. At least now that I live in humid Florida, I fit in. Down here, everybody’s hair is frizzy. But despite the frizzies, I love my hair (most days). Every now and then I monkey with the style, to see if there’s something I like better, but I always end up coming back to long, curly layers–the style that works with my facial features whether it’s ‘in style’ right now or not.

I know a lot of women, however–and a few men–who don’t like their hair. Or in the case of some of the guys, the lack thereof. What I find interesting as a psychologist is that a person’s self-esteem and how they feel about their hair are often linked, and not necessarily realistically.

This is also true with weight, of course. All of us probably know more than one woman with luscious, shiny hair and a gorgeous figure who thinks she’s fat and has ugly hair. It makes those of us of average attractiveness tend to shake our heads in wonder (scattering a few hairs in the process).

Actress Elizabeth Taylor

Quote by Liz Taylor: I don’t like my voice. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like the way I move. I don’t like the way I act. I mean, period. So, you know, I don’t like myself.

How sad. What’s going on here is that the person has poor self-esteem, probably for a lot of bogus reasons that nonetheless seem valid to them, and their dislike of themselves is projected onto their physical packaging. They then focus tons of energy on trying to improve the packaging to perfection (and thus many an eating disorder was born) thinking this will make them feel better about themselves. But it never works, because their psychological mirror is broken. They think they are not okay so they’re never going to look okay to themselves. At least not until they work on those self-esteem issues.

Wait, this was supposed to be a fun post. Okay, who remembers these little guys?

Of course, these are the cute version, but when a creature is portrayed as bad or evil, like real trolls (trolls are real, aren’t they?) or mad scientists, they often have wild crazy hair, the external symbol of their internal evil.

We writers use hair references a lot to set a scene or describe an emotion.

“He grabbed his hair and yanked” is much more interesting than “he was frustrated.”

photo by cellar door films, from WANA Commons

And how about, “He tossed his wayward hair out of his eyes as he trapped her hands against his chest.” *swoon* Oh, yeah, he’s about to kiss her.

You get the idea. What are your thoughts about hair? What do you like or loathe about your own? Have you noticed that different hairstyles change how your facial features look?

And for my fellow writers, a little challenge. Who can come up with the most original and creative hair imagery (you are limited to one sentence)?

 

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series. Check out her site at www.kassandralamb.com)

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please sign up to follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

 

 

 

Why Is the Divorce Rate So Low?

No, that is not a typo in the title. I am asking why the divorce rate is not higher. Why am I asking this question? Because my husband and I are about to celebrate our 36thanniversary and I am absolutely amazed that anybody makes it this long without divorcing. Or committing homicide.

 

First let me disabuse you all of the common myth that the divorce rate is 50%. This is just plain not true, but like most myths, it gets repeated so often, with absolute certainty on the part of the person saying it, that we all believe it. This frequently quoted statistic is based on comparing the number of marriage certificates issued in any given year with the number of divorces filed in that year. That number indeed hovers around 50%, because the number of people GETTING MARRIED has been going down at the same rate as the number of people getting divorced.

 If we count the number of people who are STILL MARRIED in any given year and compare that number to the divorces, we get a very different picture. To get that statistic, however, requires a more complicated and costly process, so it’s only done about every ten years. This data, by the way, is collected by the Center for Disease Control. So I want to know, which is the disease, marriage or divorce? I’m assuming the latter.

 

 But I digress.

 

 When calculated this way–comparing those getting divorced to those still married–the divorce rate in the U.S. peaked in 1979 at 23% and it has been going down very, very gradually ever since. These days it hovers around 20%. Much better odds than 50-50!

 

 I am a psychologist by the way, and I teach developmental psychology, but if you don’t want to believe me, here are some links to check out. Those of you who could care less about these statistics, jump ahead to the good stuff further down.

 

 Good article on the topic at PsychCentral:

 

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2012/the-myth-of-the-high-rate-of-divorce/all/1/

 

 Charts and study from Center for Disease Control:

 

 

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_028.pdf

Anyway, so why am I saying the divorce rate is surprisingly low, if it’s actually a lot lower than everybody thinks it is?

 Because it just isn’t all that easy to stay married for decade after decade. First we’ve got that whole men-and-women-don’t-really-understand-each-other thing going on. This is mostly because women, in general, like to process things, especially their feelings, out loud. Men are more inclined to mull things over in their own heads. Also men are more action-oriented; they like to fix things. (More on these differences in a later post.)

 

 She says: What’s wrong, honey?

 

He says: Nothin’.

 

She says: Come on, I can tell something’s wrong. What’s wrong?

 

He says: Nothin’. I’m fine.

 

She says: Is it me? Did I do something?

 

He says (through gritted teeth): Nothing. Is. Wrong.

 

 She says: Something really upsetting happened at work today.

 

He thinks (cuz if he’s been married for very long, he’s hopefully learned not to say it): Cut to the chase so I can tell you how to fix it.

 

She says: Yada, yada, yada, yada…

 

He nods off.

 

She gets pissed.

 

 Neither approach is right or wrong; they’re just different. But we don’t get that these differences exist and we keep expecting our mates to react to things the way we do. And then we get hurt and/or angry when s/he doesn’t understand where we’re coming from.

 

 Okay, now throw the stress of parenthood into the marriage mix. Are we clueless about what we are getting into there, or what? But then again, if we weren’t clueless, the species would have died out by now. If we knew in advance how hard parenting is, nobody would do it!

 

 

 This is me at three months old; would you look at that hair!

 

Then we’ve got the whole aging process (more on this next week, cuz I’ve got a birthday coming up, and it’s a biggie!) And the fact that people change over time, as they experience new and different things. We don’t always change at the same rate or in the same ways as our partners do, however.

It takes a lot of work to stay on the same wavelength. And we should keep in mind that marriage was invented back when the average lifespan was twenty-five years! As recently as the early 1900’s, one partner or the other was bound to die after a couple of decades–from childbirth, disease or a cattle stampede. And I can’t help but suspect that, before the days of modern forensics, a certain number of household accidents were early versions of a Reno-quickie divorce.

So how have hubby and I made it this long? First, you’ve got the making-the-right-choice-to-begin-with factor. We lucked out here, or perhaps it was divine intervention, because I had definitely dated my share of losers before he came along.

The most important part of making that right choice is marrying someone who shares your values. You don’t have to have all the same interests or even come from the same background or ethnic group. But you do need to care about the same things in life. And fortunately we do.

Probably the single most important factor in surviving marriage over the long haul is communication. You gotta talk to each other, every day, about the little stuff and the big stuff, and about how you feel about things. It’s real easy to get out of the habit of doing this, or to decide that a certain subject is just too painful, or will start a fight, so you don’t go there.

Study after study has found that the single most important factor in marital satisfaction is that both spouses consider their partner to be their best friend.

So Happy Anniversary to my best friend! I hope we have many more, but I’m not taking anything for granted, because marriage is hard work.

 

 

When you stop laughing at hubby’s funny-looking tuxedo, please let me know what you think are the important aspects of keeping a relationship strong?

 

 (Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

ALASKA, LAND OF THE FREE

Breathtakingly beautiful. Those are the words that come to mind now whenever I think about Alaska. I have traveled a fair amount in my life but I have seen only a very few places that can rival Alaska in beauty.

 Bald eagles are plentiful, a fitting symbol for this state, where wide-open spaces and rugged individualism are also prevalent. The people couldn’t have been nicer. We felt welcomed wherever we went and it didn’t feel phony, like they were just glad to see our wallets, not us.

 The Tlingit tribe were the original natives of the areas we visited, and they have a strong presence today, both in numbers and in influence on the culture. They are proud to show off their heritage through dancing, story-telling and crafts. Totem poles abound and are still being carved by artists today. We learned that these poles were originally kind of like painting your name on your mailbox, only much more elaborate and, well, beautiful. The animals on the pole tell the world what clan and families the residents of that household come from.

 Here’s a very old one, with a current work in progress behind it. And yes, that is a miniature Abe Lincoln on the top. (Hubby’s the guy in the blue shirt.)

Our trip started in Anchorage and from there we traveled by glass-covered train through miles of wilderness to Seward. We were captivated by one breathtaking view after another.

The next day our cruise ship docked in Juneau. This city is built into the side of a mountain and the tram ride up to the top was, you guessed it, breathtaking. Sorry, it’s the word that just keeps coming up, no pun intended. 🙂

 One can only reach Juneau, the capital of Alaska, via boat or plane. I thought this rather ridiculous in this day and age, until I learned that it is surrounded on three sides by a humongous ice field many miles deep, and on the fourth side is water. Thus, no roads in or out. Nothing brings home the power of Mother Nature quite like a glacier. This is the Mendenhall glacier, just a few miles outside of Juneau. The chunks of ice that break off are called ‘calves.’

 Our second favorite port of call was Skagway, a town at the northernmost tip of the Inside Passage, which is a series of inlets off the Gulf of Alaska. There we were introduced to the gold rush era of Alaska via an amusing mock-up of Liarsville, USA. Apparently during the gold rush, the members of the press were put off by the daunting journey into the snow-covered mountains of gold country. So they set up shop at the foot of the mountains and made up their stories that they sent back to their papers in the lower 48. Liarsville was also the last place that aspiring gold miners could stock up on supplies, get that sore tooth pulled and satisfy that last itch with a buxom prostitute, before the long cold trek into the wilderness.

I had a heck of a time deciding on just a few pictures to show you from Liarsville. My husband voted for the buxom prostitute, with dollar bills tucked into her cleavage, but I decided our bus driver deserved to be immortalized. He just looks scary; he was actually quite nice. 

 Skagway also exhibited the influence of the Russians in its architecture, and a quirky sense of humor in its sidewalk art.

Our all-time favorite port of call was the delightful little town of Ketchikan, where we discovered a bunch of shops, a bit off the beaten path along a canal. Even hubby got into shopping for souvenirs and smoked salmon.

 After another day of gorgeous scenery along the Inside Passage, we docked in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We plan to go back to Alaska soon to explore Denali National Park, and maybe even brave the cold of the north up past the Arctic Circle.

 Have you been to Alaska? Or other places that inspired you? How about the Grand Canyon. Check out mp author, Shannon Esposito’s recent trip to that awe-inspiring monument to Mother Nature!

 Share with us some of the places you have been that awed and inspired you.

 *This is the first in a new series on the misterio press blog, People and Places. Also coming soon, a series on what readers really care about in fiction.

Diamons and Demons

“A daimon is something which is imaginary and real at the same time – a construct of the human mind.”
— Riga Hayworth
The concept of the daimon is tricky.  Look it up online, and you’ll most likely be routed to a bunch of sites on demons.  Traditionally, daimons are defined as the entire pantheon of supernatural entities, which act as intermediaries between our world and the otherworld.  Fairies, angels, ghosts, lake monsters, demons…  all may be classified as daimons.
The bigger question, and one Riga Hayworth struggles with in The Alchemical Detective, is what aredaimons?  Where do they come from?
In his writings on UFOs, Carl Jung theorized daimons were either objects manifested or projected by our unconscious, or real objects that people projected their unconscious content upon.  But in any case, they were both real and imaginary at the same time.
If this sounds impossible, then consider quantum mechanics, and the theory of quantum superposition.  It holds that electrons exist partly in all their theoretically possible, i.e. imaginary states, at once, but when observed, they appear in one state… the expected one.  If quantum theory holds true, the very building blocks of life are both imaginary and real. 
Riga’s no scientist – she’s a metaphysical detective, and in The Alchemical Detective, she encounters daimons and demons that pack very real punches.  As a metaphysical detective, Riga seeks paranormal first causes, the why behind the what.  She knows there’s something out there beyond ourselves, and she wants to understand it, but she knows that at some level, a complete understanding is impossible.  Mystery is inherent in the daimonic realm, and the harder we look for answers, the more quickly they slip from our grasp.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss is the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, andThe Alchemical Detective.  She is hard at work on the sequel, The Shamanic Detective. 
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking good wine. 
Read a sample chapter of her books or check out her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com.  You can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/RigaHayworth

Virtual Tour Announcement!

The Alchemical Detective is going on (virtual) tour!  For more paranormal goodness, stop by these fine blogs, and check out the guest posts and interviews with misterio author, Kirsten Weiss.

July 27 Interview –  On the Broomstick

July 27 Review – Books, Books,and More Books

July 28 Interview – Read 2 Review

July 28 Guest blog – Jacqueline Paige

July 30 Interview – Fang-tastic Books

July 30 Guest blog – ParaYourNormal

Aug 3 Guest blog – Bookgirl Knitting

Or follow her on her website, at kirstenweiss.com

Welcome Kirsten Weiss!

A new writer has joined our family here at misterio press and we are excited to share her work with everyone!

Kirsten Weiss has created a paranormal mystery series that is both smart and entertaining. Her main character, Riga Hayworth, is a detective who can wield magic, talk to ghosts, summon demons and when all that fails–use her head to solve the mystery. Oh yeah, she’s one smart cookie! Oh, and her best friend is a gargoyle. How cool is that?

Kirsten’s mysteries aren’t for the faint of heart. They are layered in meaning and mythology. They make you think, force you outside of your own comfort zone, peel away prejudice and rearrange reality.

Read this series with an open mind and Riga Hayworth’s adventures will work their magic on your heart. And the best part…you won’t have to wait long for the next book in the series. It will be released this fall!

So, welcome Kirsten! We’re so excited to have you here and look forward to all our adventures together!

ps. Book 2 in the series is FREE today! Grab your copy HERE

Kirsten’s Amazon Page

Contest Winner!

And the winner of the misterio press contest for a free three-book set of the Kate Huntington Mystery series is Coleen Patrick!

 Congratulations, Coleen!

And thank you to everyone who hosted, participated and commented on Kassandra Lamb’s blog hop this week. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Welcome to Our Release Party & Contest!!!

Normally we don’t blog about our books here at misterio press, but we make an exception when
a new one is coming out. In celebration of the release of Family Fallacies, A Kate Huntington
Mystery, by Kassandra Lamb, we present:

Ghosts, Part II: Can Ghosts get Jealous?

So you might be wondering why I’m so fascinated by ghosts lately. Or perhaps that’s just my
narcissistic fantasy that you care what I’m thinking. 🙂

I’m dwelling on the subject lately, because I think my new Kate Huntington mystery is haunted.
But I’m not sure.

And neither is Kate. You see, she talks to her dead husband in her head, but she’s not sure who’s
talking back, his spirit, or her own imagination. Or maybe she’s just going crazy. Although she’s
pretty sure that’s not it, and she’s a psychotherapist, so she knows about crazy.

At first she was scripting both sides of the conversation, making up what her dearly departed was
saying back to her. But then something shifted. He started saying things that took her by surprise,
and then he started initiating some of their conversations. *theme from Twilight Zone plays*
Now I can relate to Kate’s experience of something taking over in your head. Because I never
intended to write a ghost into my books. He just kind of evolved in the first book of the series.
That happens a lot for writers. You think you are writing a story and then, when you get up to get
a snack, the characters take over. Sometimes even the dead ones!

In Book 1, talking to her beloved Eddie in her head helps Kate cope and keeps her sane.
Problems arise in Book 2 when she starts to feel attracted to another man. She tries to discuss
her feelings about this new guy with Eddie and discovers that, on this subject, he’s a clam.
(Visualize Casper the Friendly Ghost, back turned to you in a huff.)

By Book 3, she’s got a definite problem. She’s falling in love with this new guy, and whenever
they’re in the same room, the air between them sizzles. They’re getting to know each other better
as “friends,” but they’ve had to implement the four-foot rule to avoid temptation. The new guy’s
trying to be a patient man, and he’s already head over tin cups in love with Kate, so from his
perspective, he doesn’t have much choice but to wait until she’s finished grieving for her dead
husband. Little does he know, he’s not just in competition with a memory, but with a ghost.
Kate consults with Eddie on a regular basis about her problems. The only one he won’t discuss
is what she should do about the new guy. Whenever she brings him up, she gets the silent
treatment.

Meanwhile mysterious stuff is happening to Kate (after all, this is a mystery series). Among
other things, anonymous threatening notes and a dead person (a new one, not just the one in her
head), and this time she’s one of the suspects!

Here’s the bottom line. Living men can hold you, and help you protect your child. Dead men
can’t! Will Eddie bow out graciously? After all, when he was alive, he was “the sweetest man
who ever lived!”

Kassandra’s Hop Around the Blogs and Contest!

To celebrate the release of Family Fallacies, A Kate Huntington Mystery (book 3), we’re holding
a contest all this week.

Everyone who comments here will be entered to win a free three-book set of the Kate
Huntington Mystery series!

 If you also comment at one or more of Kassandra’s blog stops in her blog hop this week, you will be entered again, and again and again (one entry per blog for a maximum of six). Please make sure your comment is relevant to the blog, however, or you risk the displeasure of my hosts and they may delete your comment.

Blog Hop Stops:

Monday, 6/11 – Going over to the dark side to be interviewed by Stacy Green at Turning The
Page, http://stacygreenauthor.com

Tuesday, 6/12 – Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love? – Rhonda Hopkins lets me get serious
about some, well, serious stuff, at http://rhondahopkins.com

Wednesday, 613 – Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful – Lightening things up a bit as I
talk about body image and self-esteem as the guest of Alica McKenna Johnson at http://
alicamckennajohnson.com

Thursday, 6/14 – A Check-Up From the Neck Up – Hanging out with Ginger Calem, of world-
renowned Writer’s Butt Wednesdays fame, and sharing some tips for maintaining your mental
health, at http://gingercalem.wordpress.com

Friday, 6/15 – Chatting with Jennifer L. Oliver about writing, eating and puppy dogs (no puppy
dogs will be hurt in the process) at http://www.small-escapes.com

Tweet this for a bonus chance to win!:

Come celebrate @KassandraLamb’s new MYSTERY release for a chance to win a 3-book set! http://bit.ly/KfeoOP  #kindle #freebooks

Do You Believe in Ghosts? (A Mother’s Day Tribute–honest, it is)

I believe in ghosts. As a psychologist, I am not supposed to subscribe to such an unscientific idea. But sometimes personal experience trumps science. Now I don’t believe in haunted houses and such. I’ve never met a malevolent ghost. But I do believe in the theory that people’s spirits sometimes stick around because of unfinished business. I have seen this happen twice in my life.

My brother was always my grandmother’s favorite. I didn’t really see anything wrong with this since I thought my big brother was the neatest person ever myself. And my grandmother never short-changed me in the love department; she just loved my brother a little bit more.

At the time that she died, my brother and his first wife were having marital problems. Shortly after she died, they split up, and my brother moved into my grandmother’s now vacant house. He invited his good friend, Doug, to be his roommate, and all was well in their bachelor pad.

About a year later, my brother started dating a gal who was, shall we say, a bit high-maintenance. She eventually moved in with him. At first we thought Sandy was making stuff up when she talked about finding spent matches on the edge of the stove. The old thing had a flaky pilot light that tended to go out on a regular basis. Sandy was convinced that Grandma was re-lighting the pilot to keep her precious boy from blowing up or being overcome by leaking gas. We didn’t even believe her when she told us she’d actually seen a plump gray-haired woman up in the attic when she’d gone up there looking for something. The woman was standing in front of a pile of boxes of my grandmother’s things, glaring at Sandy.

Then one day, she asked my brother why he kept moving her slippers out from under the edge of the bed. For the fifth time, she’d found them across the room when she was sure she’d left them close to hand (or foot rather) under the bed.

That stopped us cold. My grandmother was a lady. She never, ever said anything blatantly off color. But when she was watching old movies with Rock Hudson or Cary Grant, she would sigh and say, “That man can put his shoes under my bed any time he wants.” We, as kids, had no clue what this meant. It just stuck in our heads because we thought it was a strange thing to say.

When Sandy accused my brother of moving her slippers, the pieces fell into place. Grandma did not like Sandy! She did not want this girl’s slippers under her grandson’s bed.

A few months later, my brother decided he agreed with our grandmother and he gave Sandy the boot. Awhile after that, the sweet young woman who ended up becoming his second wife moved in. And we never heard from Grandma again.

Fast forward 35 years. My mother died at 76 after a 6-month battle with cancer. She and my stepfather had retired to Florida but most of their friends and family still lived in Maryland (including my brother and I at the time) so he decided to have her memorial service up north. After the service he headed back to Florida. He had already decided that he didn’t want to live in their house alone; he was going to move into a condo. On that long drive south, he was thinking about everything he needed to do to get the house ready to put on the market. As he thought about how he would dispose of my mother’s clothing, he started getting a case of the guilts. Was it disrespectful to be so hasty about throwing out or giving away her clothes and other personal belongings?

When he got home, he walked into the bedroom and opened the closet door. The rod in the closet had broken, on my mother’s end, and had dumped all my mother’s clothes onto the floor of the closet. He looked at the ceiling and said, “Got it, Marty,” and went to get bags to start packing up her clothes for Goodwill.

So, this is a Mother’s Day tribute. To Ma and Grandma, who stuck around even after they were dead to make sure everybody was okay.

Anybody have their own ghost story or Mother’s Day tribute to share?

posted by Kassandra Lamb

IS IT ABOUT THE WHODUNIT OR THE WHO?

At a mystery writers’ conference last summer, I was drifting a bit as the long day was starting to catch up with me, when the presenter’s statement jolted me wide awake.

“Mysteries are not about the mystery; they’re about the characters.”

My first thought: “Say what?” Second thought: “Damn, he’s right.”

“Two weeks after the reader has finished a mystery,” the presenter continued, “they’ve forgotten most of the plot, but if it was a good story, they remember the characters.”

 I knew, as a mystery reader, that this rang true.

 But why is it true? my inquisitive, analytical little mind asked. And I’ve been pondering that question ever since. I’m not sure I have the answer, but here are my thoughts.

We are surrounded by two things every day. One, we are surrounded by ordinary people: butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. Two, unfortunately in American society today, we are also surrounded by violence.

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, which has the distinction of having dropped off of the top ten list of worst crime cities in the country in the last few years (it was #11 in 2010). The TV show, Homicide (1993-1999), was set in Baltimore. When my husband and I are staying at our summer cottage in Maryland we refer to the local Baltimore news broadcast as the “litany of murders.”

Okay, before you decide to click over to some less depressing blog, I am going to lighten up here.

So why in the world are murder mysteries and thrillers in the top three genres on anybody’s list? Why do we turn to murder–that depressing gruesome thing we hear about every night on the evening news–when we want to relax and be entertained?

Because we, as ordinary people, are fascinated by the idea of extraordinary things happening to other ordinary people like us. We want to see how the characters deal with the murder. If we find the characters engaging, if we can relate to them, then we are hooked.

When the everyday-person, could-be-you-or-me protagonist in a mystery is brave and daring, we are empowered. When s/he is scared, we swallow the lump in our own throats. When s/he is sad, our eyes tear up.

We project ourselves into these ordinary people who are struggling with out-of-the-ordinary situations. We are proud of their successes, mournful for their losses, terrified by the risks they must take, and relieved beyond measure when they are okay in the end.

 In the past, when people have asked me why I love to read mysteries, I have said, “Because they are as far away from my own life as I can get. They are great escapes.” This is true, since I’m not in the habit of stumbling over dead bodies.

But I now realize that this statement is not entirely true. I love mysteries because they are about people like me! Just not in situations like those I normally encounter in daily life. I love to see how these people, i.e., me, deal with the challenges of extraordinary events.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Why do you love mysteries? Do you agree or disagree that they are mainly about the characters?

Posted by: Kassandra Lamb