Why Do We Love Mysteries So Much?


Mystery fiction is a curious genre. None of us condone murder or other gruesome crimes, yet when we dive into the pages of a good mystery story, we find the more bizarre and heinous the crime, the more enjoyment the tale ultimately brings us.

Gone are the days of the simple humdrum murders. Now, with so many mystery novels filling bookshelves, we clamor for more exciting, strange, unusual, and unsolvable mysteries to read.
But what is it about mysteries that inflames our imagination and sucks us in so thoroughly? Why does a good mind-bending mystery compel us to keep turning page after page?
Humanity is curious by nature.
It’s hard-wired into our DNA to explore, to search, to delve deeper, to find hidden truths. Our psyches are created and have evolved to always be looking for the next curiosity, puzzle, question, and mystery.
When we find a good head-scratcher we just can’t figure out—whether in real life or the pages of a story—it sets our minds alight and fills us with a burning desire to figure it out. That aspect of our intellect is a huge part of why Homo sapiens are at the top of the food chain.
Mystery novels reveal the hidden darkness within.
And not just within the killer, but within all of the other people who play a role in various aspects of the mystery.
We tend to be fairly cynical, so when we read that the characters in the story have ulterior motives or dark secrets, there’s a sense of justification, that “we were right.” It lends an air of mystique to not only the placid-seeming characters in the story, but gives us that sense of titillation in our own lives as we wonder who else around us is keeping secrets.

Read the entire article in the February 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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