Wednesday, February 4

Motives

Mystery writers and readers are among the most contented, stable, productive people I know, yet so many of our acquaintances question we feel compelled to read and write about crime and murder.

Rachel Franks offers an answer, in her essay, "Motive for Murder: Reading Crime Fiction," for the ALIA Biennial Conference - these stories teach us about ourselves:

"Crime fiction focuses on what it means to be human, and how complex humans are, because stories of murders, and the men and women who solve them, comment on what drives some people to take a life and what drives others to avenge that life which is lost."

And then she goes on to quote the late P.D. James and her 2009 book Talking About Detective Fiction:

"[N]ot by luck or divine intervention, but by human ingenuity, human intelligence and human courage. It confirms our hope that, despite some evidence to the contrary, we live in a beneficent and moral universe in which problems can be solved by rational means and peace and order restored from communal or personal disruption and chaos." (p. 174).

Readers of mysteries are determined to root out and destroy evil, to restore justice. The question "Why?" may be the most essential to solving problems and understanding others. The investigation is not so easy in the wake of cruelty and pain.

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