A Mystery, Sans Murder

When I was in elementary school, the PTA put on a play for the kids. It was a mystery play! My mom tried out and got to be a suspect! However, both my mom and I regretted that the mystery only involved a stolen necklace. The PTA thought a murder mystery wouldn’t be appropriate for elementary school kids. I was already reading mysteries involving murders, even some that were geared toward a younger audience, so this seemed dumb to me (as must adult things seem to a 10-year-old). How can you have a mystery without a dead body!   

While my fictional interest in spooky and deadly stories remains rather strong, I have come to realize that there are many different kinds of mysteries. I’m certainly not the first to say that a large part of the success of Harry Potter had to do with the fact that the books were set up as mysteries. Readers wanted to collect clues, along with Harry, to figure out what the heck was going on.

I recently took a softer approach to a mystery in my book RED BLOODED. There is no murder or blood and guts, but Peyton must circumvent the media and her mom’s presidential campaign staff to investigate the truth about her family. As she uncovers clues, she realizes how much more there is to know. So, while there aren’t screams and chalk outlines, the reader still needs to help Peyton solve the mystery around her family.

What mysteries have you enjoyed that don’t have involve a murder?


Rita said…
I can't name a mystery without a murder. I don't read cozys but I'm thinking there are several in that genres that don't go all chain saw massacre. We live in a wonderful 'book' time when we can all find the kind of stories we want to read.
Nice post.
I'm with you - no murder? How can that be a mystery worth solving? LOL I grew up on Nancy Drew, though, so I'm sure I read some along the way. ;)
jean harrington said…
How about DeMaurier's (sp?)Rebecca? Would that count as a bona fide mystery? And of course, my old favorite, Jane Eyre. I mean, who IS that person in the attic?

An intriguing final question, Caitlin.
Cathy Perkins said…
I'm coming at this from a different direction. Writing two series, I'm trying to avoid the "Cabot Cove" syndrome of dead bodies all over a small town. While the first in each has a murder, I'm also wondering it those "softer" mysteries you mentioned could involve a puzzle other than "who dun it."
Let us know how your new release precedes!

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