Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Salon: Thriller vs. Mystery

This week has seen me read Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Apprentice and The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (for Amazon Vine); the reviews of all three are on this blog. I've also been rereading King Solomon's Mines on the Kindle. It's an old favorite and I love the free public domain books for the Kindle.

I had an epiphany of sorts, while reading The Surgeon and The Apprentice over this past week and a half. The mystery element in a thriller is not meant to be very important. The killer is not going to be someone inside the plot, s/he is generally going to be someone pulled out of nowhere because it's not the mystery that is important, it's the thriller bits, the creepy, chilling, scary parts. This may be no newsflash to many of you, but to me it was. As a mystery fan first, of the greats like Dame Christie and Dame James, I continued to find it disconcerting to see the villain come from nowhere instead of being one of the cast of characters; it was a continual sore point for me in the few thrillers I had read. Seemed like a cheap plot device, and maybe it still is, but I understand now why it's that way. A thriller is written not for the intellectual enjoyment of solving the mystery, but for the psychological enjoyment of being terrorized and horrified. Now that I understand that, I can be easier on thriller writers and know, beforehand, not to expect quality mystery elements.

Next week looks to be a good reading week as well. I hope to finish King Solomon's Mines, I plan to start Beatrice and Virgil (a Christmas gift) and ever since I picked up The Court of the Air at the used bookstore earlier in the week, it's been begging to be read (Hunt's other novel, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves was a layered, meaty, steampunk delight and I have no reason to think this one will be any different). On the other hand, I have a years old ARC (The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped which came from I-have-no-idea-where that really should be attempted. And a Kindle full of classic pulp fiction that I'd rather be reading. It'll be interesting to see what I DO read this coming week!

~the Sunday Salon~

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