As any fan of murder mysteries knows, the genre can encompass all kinds of stories, from English country murders to small hidden towns in Montreal to intrigue in Washington to …. You name it. All these novels tell about the murder: the who, what, where, and why of it. But the best ones tell another story as well. A murder mystery can serve as a vehicle for social commentary, for exploring an historical event, for telling a love story, or any of the many reasons that a writer decides she has something to say.
The nice thing about creating a series in this genre is that you can have ongoing characters who grow and change over time. They have stories of their own to tell, alongside the story of the victim and the perp. Reading a series is like visiting old friends, catching up, finding out what’s new with them. And writing a series is much the same. It’s a lot of fun for me to write about Bella and Art and their friends, to find out things I didn’t know before, to travel together.
Are murder mysteries in the same class of fiction as great literature? Maybe not. And yet – Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers gather new fans to this day, so if a definition of literature is something that touches readers of many places and times, has something to say and something to teach, then maybe murder mysteries are worth reading after all.