There’s nothing I like better than old-fashioned mystery solving. These days Thrillers are all the rage, Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Mystery Thrillers, and so on and so forth. I am a big fan of these Thrillers too. But nothing beats the good old mystery being solved by a detective, professional or amateur. From Famous Five to Nancy Drew and from Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot, there has always been something about detectives that has made me want to be one of them.
Enid Blyton was the most prolific writer of mysteries. The Famous Five, The Five Find Outers, The Secret Seven, all made it look so easy. There was always a mystery to be solved in the neighbourhood. Too bad our neighbourhood was nothing like that. We had a pretty dull life because we didn’t have any mysteries to solve!
Enid Blyton paved the way for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, those cool teenagers who always got pulled into adventures and came out of them unscathed and triumphant! How jealous I was of these teens who could drive their own cars and go around fighting criminals and villains without worrying about studies or school. In contrast, my life was full of homework and school projects that were as boring as ditch water! So, I continued to live precariously through these awesome individuals who never seemed to age.
I read all the adventures of Sherlock Holmes with a wide-eyed wonder. He was a genius and could solve any mystery. However, as I grew older, my awe turned into irritation at how self-centered and mean he appeared to be. It was only after watching the retelling of Holmes in the series Sherlock that I was able to forgive him and change my views about him. But not by much.
In recent times, I have liked both P.D. James and Robert Galbraith, though I find that there is more action and broken limbs in their books than exercising brains and collecting clues. With P.D. James, there is the added boredom of pages and pages of descriptions ranging from the scenery to the appearance of a character, making the readers yawn and think about leaving the book halfway. Still, her books are well worth the odd yawn or two because of the great stories she spins.
Robert Galbraith, while very good, carries the additional baggage of actually being J.K. Rowling which puts a much bigger burden on those poor shoulders. And Cormoran Strike, while one of my favourite characters from recent times, is somewhat violent and prone to being beaten up a bit too much for my liking. Yet, I have devoured the books and wait impatiently for the next one.
The ultimate Queen of Crime, for me, has always been Agatha Christie. I have read even her more mediocre books with much excitement and pleasure. Poirot, of course, is a favourite, for even though he is egocentric, he is never mean. I don’t care that much about Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence but I still read their books when I don’t feel like reading anything else. For me, there are no other books like And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. These books are perfection, the best mysteries that anyone can write. I am also partial to The Man in The Brown Suit, The Passenger to Frankfurt, Murder on The Orient Express, and Death on The Nile.
As I write this, I realize that almost all the writers I have written about are females! With the exception of Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes, all characters have been created by extremely talented female authors. It also occurs to me that both Holmes and the Hardy Boys have always come across as cocky and self-centered! Well, that’s kind of funny I think. I wonder why it took me so long to realize this. Oh well, more power to women, I guess. I will keep reading and loving mysteries, no matter who writes them or who solves them. After all, my favourite TV sleuth has always been Scooby Doo!!!