I’ve never really gotten it when people tell me they don’t read mysteries or don’t like mysteries. Particularly when I’m told it by someone who’s read one of my books, and says they “enjoyed it, even though I don’t usually (whatever) mysteries.”
Mystery, as a genre, is funny. There are so many sub-genres, so many differences, that “mystery” is really difficult to categorize. Some people have told me they don’t read them because they’re too scary or gory, there’s too much violence. But there are many that simply aren’t scary, gory or violent and are still good reads. Some people have told me they have trouble following the plots. Confession: I often do, too. But that doesn’t bother me.
I’ve read Dorothy L. Sayers MURDER MUST ADVERTISE maybe a dozen times, and there are still things about the plot I don’t get (or maybe it’s just that cricket game that takes up a whole chapter). Yet, it’s one of my favorite mysteries. Same goes for Sayers’ THE NINE TAILORS, though maybe it’s just church bell-ringing. Sayers was so good with character and story the plot was an afterthought as far as I was concerned, though it obviously wasn’t to her. Her plots are as excellently drawn as the rest of her books.
As you may have guessed, I’m not a big plot person. With most books, not just those by the great DLS, I just let plot wash over me a lot of the time and am usually surprised if I figure the whole thing out. I’m much more interested in the characters and what they’re doing and how they feel and how they relate to each other and what’s going on in the story that’s carried along by the plot (or vice-versa). Writing-wise, this can be a challenge for me, but that’s a blog post for a different day.
There are also people who are all plot, all the time. Neither of us are “right” or “wrong.” Cozy? Thriller? Hard boiled? Whatever. None of it is right or wrong and none alone defines “mystery.” Say to me that you “don’t like” mysteries, and I bet you just haven’t found the right kind.
That’s one reason why I’m so excited about Sunday’s upcoming Noir @ the Bar event in Portland. A dozen Maine crime and mystery writers, many of whom are regular contributors to blog or guest contributors, are going to read short passages from their work. What better way to sample the variety we offer?
Noir @ the Bar is 3-5 p.m., Sunday, November 6, at Bull Feeney’s, 375 Fore St., Portland. To find out more, go to the Noir @ the Bar Facebook page.
JEN BLOOD: Author of the popular Erin Solomon series, she’s put her dog training background to work with the release this month of THE DARKEST THREAD, the first in the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue series. Find out more about Jen at jenblood.com.
BRENDA BUCHANAN: Brenda, an attorney and former journalist, is author of the Maine-based Joe Gale mystery series, the third of which, TRUTH BEAT, was released earlier this year. To find out more about Brenda, go to brendabuchananwrites.com.
DICK CASS: Dick is the author of SOLO ACT, a jazz mystery featuring sleuth Elder Darrow, as well as many short stories. Find out more about Dick at his Facebook page, Dick Cass – Writer.
BRUCE ROBERT COFFIN: Bruce, a retired Portland police detective sergeant, is the author of recently released, AMONG THE SHADOWS, his debut mystery novel, the first in the John Byron series. Find out more about Bruce at brucerobertcoffin.com.
JESSICA ESTEVAO (aka JESSIE CROCKETT): As Jessie Crockett, she’s author of the Sugar Grove Mysteries; as Jessica Estevao, her first Change of Fortune mystery, WHISPERS BEYOND THE VEIL, came out this fall. To learn more about her, go to jessicaestevao.com.
GAYLE LYNDS: Described as the “reigning queen of the espionage thriller,” Gayle’s new thriller THE ASSASSINS, was recently released. Learn more about Gayle and her books at gaylelynds.com.
MAUREEN MILLIKEN: That’s right, me! I’m a former journalist and the second in my Maine and journalism-based Bernie O’Dea mystery series, NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS, was released this summer. Find out more about me and my books at maureenmilliken.com.
BRENDAN RIELLY: Brendan’s books range from a tongue-in-cheek guide to parenting to his thriller AN UNBEATEN MAN, released last year and named 2016 Best Crime Fiction winner by the Maine Writers and Publisher’s Association. To learn more about Brendan, go to riellybooks.com.
BARB ROSS: Barb is the author of the popular Maine Clambake mystery series. The latest, ICED UNDER, comes out next month. To find out more about Barb, go to maineclambakemysteries.com.
JOHN C. SHELDON: John is a former attorney, including a stint as a Franklin County prosecutor, and is now a legal mediator and arbitrator. He has collaborated on three published mystery short stories with his wife, Gayle Lynds.
JULIA SPENCER FLEMING: A New York Times bestselling author, Julia writes the Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne suspense mysteries, which feature an Episcopalian minister. For more on Julia and her books, go to juliaspencerfleming.com.
So, see? I defy you to leave Noir @ the Bar without hearing something that you think you’d like to read more of. On top of that, we’re a fun group. Come on over and check us out.
Maureen Milliken is the author of the Bernie O’Dea mystery series. Follow her on Twitter at@mmilliken47 and like her Facebook page at Maureen Milliken mysteries. Sign up for email updates at maureenmilliken.com.