The first book I can remember reading for enjoyment was a mystery book. A friend's mother gave me one of the Sugar Creek Gang mysteries, and I was hooked. My fascination with mystery books has led me on a wandering path from timeless Sugar Creek to the 1920's New York City of Ellery Queen. A new author would lead me to a different style of story and then I'd want to read all the author's books. I devoured the bibliographies of mystery book authors like Fredric Brown, Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly with side trips too numerous to list. My personal reading journey may only be of interest to me, but it typifies most readers who savor the mystery genre of books. One book leads to another until you've explored all the possible avenues and settled on your favorites.
What makes a good mystery book?
Since we each have our own tastes and preferences, it can't be good because of topic, prose style, or locality. A "good" story for you might rate a yawn from somebody else. It boils down to the writing. Your favorite authors take you on a pleasant journey; their writing lets us get lost in the story. Even a compelling character or intriguing plot line can be betrayed by poor writing. When a reader finds a book that they like, the next step is to find more books by that author. When even a prodigious author can't keep pace with our reading, we look for other author's that are "like" our favorites. Sometimes the new author sends us down a slightly different path of the mystery story genre. To read good mystery books, is to time travel and enter new worlds and discover new mystery authors. Discover Harold Adams and enter the 1930'2 depression era, or laugh along with Lawrence Shame's Key West folk, or open the door of the bookseller's world of John Dunning, possibly meet the Detroit tough guys of Jon A. Jackson or land in the Sicily of Andrea Camilleri.
Where can we find a good mystery book?
The library is a great place to find good books. Librarians are great sources when the question is, "who writes books like Lee Child? Or like Harold Adams or like Thomas Perry or like Donna Leon â€¦" Your reading reach extends through all the branches of a library system. Don't forget that we read library books for free; such a compelling aspect of the search for a good mystery. However, we have to give those library books back! We can't read a chapter or two, and slide into other books for weeks or months, and easily return to that partly read book. The books can't sit on our bookshelves, like the favored things they are, to be scanned at will, or loaned to a family member or reader friend. Book clubs are great places to acquire books inexpensively and get lots of new choices each month.
Why a book club?
Book clubs like The Mystery Guild Book Club and Book of the Month Club, and The Literary Guild all have online presences and offer loads of bargains and new mystery books to try. One problem with mystery book clubs is that you can end up with over flowing book shelves and discover that you are housing many books you didn't particularly like or that you don't desire to house permanently. What to do? This leads us to another mystery book resource, the used book store.
The book may be used, but the story can live on.
The used book store will happily take those extra mystery volumes off your hands and re-offer them to others just like us â€“ mystery readers on the hunt. After you drop off your unwanted books, stay awhile and browse the stacks for the books you've missed from a favorite author's bibliography. No reader can resist browsing through book stacks, nor can they resist picking up a volume or two that look interesting.
How about an online book club where you can swap out your extra volumes for new treasures for just the cost of postage? The PaperBack Swap Book Club is a great place to enter your wish list and let the club keep on the watch for you. If anything on your wish list becomes available it is offered to you. This is great for mystery book collectors.
The book collector in you.
Some mystery readers find that they are collectors as well. If a good mystery book by a favored author is important enough to keep on the bookshelf, wouldn't a signed first edition make an even greater treasure? This leads us to the specialty book shop, the mystery book shop. Many mystery book sellers have online presences and offer, collectively, every book by every author you've want to read or own. The cream of the crop is the brick and mortar kind of mystery bookstore, like The Poisoned Pen in Phoenix Arizona. In the mystery book store, you can hold those mystery book treasures in your hand. You can be advised by a staff member who is invariably a well read mystery book lover like yourself.
At the end though, the perfect place for a good mystery book is in your hands. Find some time for yourself. Pick a comfortable place to rest. Choose a favorite author. Indulge that ultimate pleasure. Read a good mystery book.