Tag Archives: puzzles

Why Murder and Mayhem?

by Kassandra Lamb

I’ve touched on this subject before, but I find myself once again questioning why I write murder mysteries.

I’m a pacifist at heart, who believes violence is only justifiable in self-defense. And I’m an optimist. For me the glass is always half full and I’m savoring the half I’ve just consumed.

My favorite kind of half-full glass ;)  (photo by cellar door films, WANA Commons)

My favorite kind of half-full glass 😉 (photo by cellar door films, WANA Commons)

So why do I write about the darker side of humankind?

The simplest answer–the one I give at cocktail parties–is that mysteries are what I like to read, so it’s the genre I’m most familiar with. But why do I read mysteries, to the exclusion of almost every other genre?

With the book I will soon be releasing, I found myself really struggling with whether or not it was too depressing. It features a young woman with bipolar disorder who commits suicide. (Or does she?) My early readers and my misterio critique partner on this project, Kathy Owen, have all reassured me that the story is not too dark, that the depressing elements are counterbalanced by humor and lighter subplots.

Good! That was my goal. But still this book is making me contemplate again my choice of genres.

I know one of the reason I read and write mysteries is that I love solving puzzles.

(photo by CrazyPhunk CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by CrazyPhunk CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, murder mysteries–I love them all!

I think I get that love from my maternal grandmother. She had a passion for crossword puzzles. She said they kept her brain stimulated. (I still have the unabridged Webster’s dictionary she kept by her favorite chair.)

Mysteries definitely stimulate my brain. I can get all comfy and relax my body while letting my brain flex its muscles by solving a riddle or two.

Of course, all good stories, regardless of genre, must have realistic characters one can relate to. We live vicariously through those characters. Some people might love to vicariously fall in love in a romance or explore uncharted worlds in a sci-fi story, but my favorite vicarious experience is the thrill of a mystery.

The stakes are high for the characters, perhaps because they themselves are suspected of the crime or because the murderer comes after them at some point. I can live through the danger with them, my heart pounding as they confront a killer, but without any risk to myself.

I guess I’m an armchair adrenaline junkie. 😀

Reading for me is also about learning. I love finding out more about other vocations than my own, other geographical locales, other periods of history, etc. all while being entertained by a good story.

As the saying goes, a reader lives a thousand lives. We can broaden our experiences so much through reading, regardless of the genre. But for me, the best experiences have to do with murder and mayhem.

How about you? Do you read mysteries mostly, or is it only one of several well-loved genres? Why do these genres appeal to you?

Psst!! Here’s a sneak peek at my cover. Available soon for preorder ~ Ta da… Suicidal Suspicions, Book 8 in the Kate Huntington series.

SuicidalSuspicions FINALPsychotherapist Kate Huntington is rocked to the core when one of her favorite clients commits suicide. How can this be? The woman, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had been swinging toward a manic state. The client’s family blames Kate and they’re threatening to sue for malpractice. She can’t fault them since she blames herself. How could she have missed the signs?

Searching for answers for herself and the grieving parents, Kate discovers some details that don’t quite fit. Is it possible the client didn’t take her own life, or is that just wishful thinking? Questioning her professional judgement, and at times her own sanity, she feels compelled to investigate. In the process, she stirs up her decades-old ambivalence for the Catholic Church. Is her client’s death somehow related to her childhood parish?

When she senses that someone is following her, she wonders if she is truly losing it. Or is she getting dangerously close to someone’s secrets?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

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