Sunday, May 18, 2014

It’s a Mystery!

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, I want to assure you that these essays are not at an end. There will be more. It’s just that for the last few weeks I’ve been deep in final corrections and edits for a new book that will be out very soon. The book is called "Unusual Suspects," and is, as the title implies, about dastardly deeds done by unexpected perpetrators. The sub-title is "Four stories of suspicion, suspense and murder."

Suspense or mystery stories are a genre I have wanted to write for a long time. It began, I guess, with the discovery of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I was 13 or so, and Collier’s magazine ran a series of the Holmes stories that summer. I can still remember eagerly awaiting each issue, and then sitting on the screened porch and practically inhaling the Conan Doyle delights. It was later that I learned who Dr. Doyle really was, and how widely and highly regarded he had been since the 1880's. From those stories I eventually progressed to Agatha Christy, and a whole generation of mysteries by British authors. My personal library holds several feet of shelves containing mysteries, almost all dating from the 1920's to the 1950's, and all by British authors. I’ve collected them in used book stores and at yard sales all over the country. The attraction to me is the exploration of ordinary people doing extraordinary (and often terrible) things that set them apart from everyone else.

A writer examines life and tries to explain it, to himself as much as to others. I’m sure that even before I could read I enjoyed mystery stories written for children. In the beginning all of life is a mystery, and listening to (and eventually reading) mystery stories is one way to safely explore the larger world. That continues throughout life. We say we read for entertainment, for knowledge, for understanding of the world and of ourselves. What we really mean, I believe, is that we read to pierce the mystery that is life.

I will alert you to the release of "Unusual Suspects," and for those of you who have Kindle readers, I will be offering a short window that will allow you to own a free download of the whole book. That will happen in the next several days, I hope. If you take advantage of the offer, let me (and other readers) know what you think. The book will also be available later this month as a real, three-dimensional version, and I’ll put that information out when I have a date.

Until then - - - it’s a mystery!