Why Do People Love A Good Murder Mystery?

Blood, Hand Print on Diary

Isn’t it strange that death and dying are fairly taboo topics, yet millions of readers rush to get the next novel in a crime/murder mystery series?

I know from reader feedback that many love to see the bad guy get their just deserts. They want to see justice done, the victimized avenged. A good murder mystery fits that bill perfectly. And it’s interesting to note the genre originated in the Christian west. There has always been a moralistic ethos about the genre. The fight between good and evil is ever present.

There are other reasons why readers purchase millions of dollars of detective stories, cozy murder mysteries, and thrillers each year. Readers like to follow clues, pick out the red herrings, and solve the puzzle, so to speak. Where the diabolical villain is known in a thriller, they like to match wits with the bad guy.

Readers love a flawed main character they can become emotionally involved with. Their hearts beats a bit faster and they catch their breath when because of the very psychological flaw they’ve come to love him/her for, the villain has put our detective/sleuth in jeopardy. Of course, in the end, the good guy wins in fiction. If it only were so in real life.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng #8577

14 thoughts on “Why Do People Love A Good Murder Mystery?

    1. RT, I think we want three dimensional characters whether they be the protagonist or the villain. We want to know there is a human in the bad guy, but we want him to be really bad and he’s not going to give in to that human side, he’s turned against it. We want him to give the hero a run for it. And we want the hero flawed too. He may be a super sleuth, but he’s exhausted by phone calls from his mother, or whatever.

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  1. I know I love mysteries because of my heightened sense of justice. I want the sleuth (who is a normal, flawed person like me) has what it takes to win the day and find the bad guy. I also love a puzzle. Whenever I need to think deeply about something, I work jigsaw puzzles. There’s something about sifting through the clues (pieces), finding where they fit into the scheme of things, and then completing the puzzle so you can see the finished picture.

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    1. meticulouslyclean

      Yes. That’s what I was going to say, Karen. Thanks for saying better than I ever could.
      Nike, once again you give us something to think about.
      Thanks. 🙂

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  2. Hi, Nike, I tried posting a comment on your latest post and it said that the comment couldn’t be posted. Just wondering why that was? Anyway, I liked your post. I had commented that even though I write fantasy, I think a good mystery is good in any genre and everyone loves justice when it comes to good and evil.   Have a great day! Debbie

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    1. Debbie, One of the things that makes fantasy novels and movies so popular is the struggle between good and evil. There is usually more than one mystery in a good fantasy story.

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