4 Things Crime and Mystery Readers Understand

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When I was a kid, I hardly read anything that wasn’t labeled crime or mystery, and then I grew up and discovered other wonderful literary genres. But I never forgot my first love. Every now and then, I crave crime fiction like a normal person would crave pizza. And I know I’m not alone. I know there are millions of readers out there who feel the same way. Maybe you’re one of them. And, like me, you probably also:

…think you can solve any crime.

When I see news reports about unsolved crimes, I usually scoff at what I perceive to be the incompetence of our local police. I feel like they’re not using all the tools and resources available to them as officers of the law. I feel like if I were them, I could solve the case faster than you could recite the Law and Order intro (but only if you say it very, very slowly). Never mind that my “training” is just hours of sitting in bed with a Sue Grafton novel in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Never mind that I don’t know the first thing about actual detecting.

…try to deduce stuff about people you encounter based on their appearance and behavior.

One of the most influential books of my childhood was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was my first glimpse into the mystery genre, which would dominate my reading life from then on, and my first meeting with the great detective, who quickly became my favorite character in literature. Being a child who had nothing better to do, I would try to emulate his ways. I would stare at a stranger’s sleeves and try to determine if they did a lot of writing (I had no idea) or at someone’s tattoo to see any clue as to where they had been (to my prejudiced young mind, in jail, probably). Even now, I admit I still indulge in such deductions at times, with the same useless results.

…think you can commit a crime and get away with it.

I once told a friend that I had read so much crime fiction that I thought I could get away with murder. After that, she stopped talking to me, and I still don’t know why. (Don’t look at me like that; even Sherlock Holmes has unsolved cases.) Anyway, what I said back then, I actually believed, and now, even if I say otherwise, maybe I still do. The opportunity to test my hypothesis has yet to present itself, though.

…feel you’ve missed your calling as a detective.

I’m a wimp. If an evil clown (or even a normal one) were to walk into my workplace, I’d be the first out the door. If someone were to rob a bank while I’m doing some adulting there, I’d lie on the floor and cry for my mommy until somebody slapped some sense into me. Even so, whenever I read crime fiction, especially police procedurals, I can’t help but think that I should be out there chasing bad guys, flirting with death, and just sporting that Jane Rizzoli vibe. But then I remember I can’t read when I’m dead, so there goes that dream.

What do you think are some things about you that your fellow crime/mystery fans would understand?