Friday, December 7, 2007

The ethics of mysteries...

Hey, if you're reading this, you probably have heard this basic idea already. Supposedly mystery readers love mysteries because our books impose some kind of order on the universe. Things make sense, clues lead to conclusions, and justice is served. (This is different from thriller readers - I think they're more into the adrenaline rush of danger, or experiencing a very different kind of consciousness, such as being inside the mind of a serial killer.)

But at my reading on Monday, a woman who is both an author and a psychotherapist pointed out that my books have a strong ethical underpinning. I was wildly flattered, but a little confused - I guess I'd not really thought about my books like that. I mean, to be honest, if someone told me a book was "moral" or "improving" or even "educational," my first thought would be "Not fun!" But ethical, well, maybe that's different.

Anyway, her very nice compliment led me to wonder:

Do you think mysteries have or promote ethical systems?
Can a book be moral or immoral?
Do you care if justice is served?
Do you read different books for different purposes?
Are mysteries a comfort read for you?
In other words, when the world is going crazy, do you read a mystery just to get some sense of order back?

(If you need a lighter topic today, please check out my guest blog at First Offenders. And if you're in the Cambridge/Boston area, tonight I'll be at Harvard Book Store for my book release party, too! Wine, cheese, cookies, books.)

Or you can just click on the following:


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