Many of you wrote in on our previous post suggesting Agatha Christie mysteries as perfect for the heavy-duty reader who wanted more sophisticated fare but not teen romance, or YA.
I think this makes a lot of sense. A lot of teens (and others) are ready to take on a mystery, but less ready to confront sexuality, relationships, and all the rest of the messy human condition, even in fictional form. I LOVED mysteries as a kid, and I still do—Nancy Drew of course, and then Agatha Christie was a perfect followup. Despite their being about, you know, murder, they were curiously nonthreatening, puzzling but not terrifying.
And I could never figure out who did it.
At the time, I thought this was just how mysteries were, it was the whole point, really, that the writer could skillfully hide the murderer in plain sight, and you would be thrilled, convinced, and blind-sided, all at once. Some people, I knew, figured it out, but they were special "other" types, living in a rarefied realm I could only admire from afar.
But a few things have happened since:
1) We were watching a romantic comedy with Chestnut (a great one, In a World, which we all really liked, though it's a little bit racy for some kids maybe?). The tension was really tense for Chestnut, and towards the end she was on the edge of the couch and cried out, "But what if the nice guy and the cool girl don't get together?" And I remembered that there was a time when I didn't know how romantic comedies were going to end, and that it was wonderful time.
2) I'm reading a lot of mysteries, and all of a sudden I know who the murderer is. Often.
It started with my first Jack Reacher book. And I thought, huh, well that's a fluke. So a while later I read another Jack Reacher book.
It happened again.
I got nervous and a little excited. Because, what if I'm changing the kind of person I am? What if I know everything now? I will win every bar bet! (Except I don't really go to bars.) I will be able to come up with knowledgable and cutting retorts! (Except that hasn't happened yet—but it could!)
Then I read a Dennis Lehane book a few days ago: Darkness, Take My Hand, and I knew. I KNEW WHO DID IT.
So here's what I think. Either I am a genius (highly probable), or I have just been around for so long that I've seen it all. An even darker possibility: I had secretly read all those books before and forgot I read them and then think I know the killer because, er, I read it before? Oh dear.
I will let you, fair readers, be the judge (s).