Earlier this year, I was finally seduced into the world of mystery writing. It was a long struggle, as I’ve never been much enamoured of mystery writers or their stories. Too many coincidences, too much unnatural infrastructure built up in stories written by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle to make me want to spend much time there. Even Nancy Drew, which I read feverishly as a pre-teen, eventually proved it was a genre that was formulaic and, after a couple dozen, predictable. It was easy to set aside for more challenging fare.
Then I discovered by chance some Regency romance mysteries with the Lady Jane Grey series (Deanna Raybourn) and the Lady Emily Mysteries (Tasha Alexander.) From there it didn’t take long to make the leap to the 1930’s where Rhys Bowen’s heroine, Lady Georgiana, a penniless royal, frolicks through a life of poverty amidst the aristocracy while discovering dead bodies right and left…and solving mysteries along the way. On a more subdued note, the Maggie Hope mystery series of Susan Elia Macneal, are well-crafted, darker novels set in the early years of World War II where Maggie’s skills as a brilliant mathematician bring her to the attention of Winston Churchill and to a host of cryptographic puzzles.
My most recent rich find has been Dick Francis, and his stableful of mystery stories all loosely based on his life experience as a steeplechase jockey in England. Having read a good dozen already, I know I can count on a steady, cool-headed hero who is always willing to take some kind of physical beating in the interest of solving a mystery and a villain (or villains) that generally holds out until the final pages to make himself/herself known.
I am absolutely hooked, and the mystery is why it has taken so many years for me to find myself back at home again in this crazy world of whodunit.