Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Pandora's Box

By Tracy Kiely

Have you noticed that the jacket blurb for a lot of literary novels has been saying "a great mystery" or "a nail-biting thriller" recently? As a mystery writer, what do you think is going on? And also, what non-genre novel do *you* think is a great mystery?

Um, no? I have to be honest, I haven’t noticed. That’s not to say that it’s not happening, and second to the whole blue/chocolate, white/gold dress debate, it’s all anyone can talk about  (and just for the record, it’s BLUE/CHOCOLATE people!).
In my defense, it’s been a busy couple of months. In our little household, we’ve had the following:

*          The Whooping Cough (daughter)
*          Bronchitis (same kid, two weeks later)
*          Pneumonia (different kid)
*          An appendix scare that resulted in an entire day spent in ER (yet another kid who apparently just needs to hit the bathroom more)
*          The pipes at our beach house burst. Or, as the oil guy explained it, “Yeah. Your ceiling is now on your floor.” Apparently the water ran for two weeks. Given the damage it did in that short time, I think the Grand Canyon might be overrated.
*          Oh, and did I mention, I’m under deadline for the second book in my Nic and Nigel mystery series? No? Well, that’s because I have a facial tic and can’t speak clearly.

            However, now that I am up to speed, I think that as long as a tag line is used correctly, it’s fair use. (I once saw a movie preview that promised “A Pandora’s Box of Excitement!” Really? The marketing department thought comparing the movie to an unleashing of all the evils in the world was a plus? I’d like to see the proposals they rejected. No, wait.  I don’t.)  
As for the increase in mystery-inspired taglines, I think it’s a sign of the times. When I was trying to publish my first cozy, I received a note from an agent who told me that, “the days of cozies is coming to an end.” He went on to predict that the genre would be “all but dead” in five years (this was ten years ago).  I’m obviously no expert, but I think A.) He has the same problem that resulted the appendix scare for my youngest (give it a second) and B) When the world is at it’s craziest, mysteries are at their most popular.  Dame Agatha’s popularity was at its zenith during some of the worst periods in recent history. Why? Because when evil rears its head, most want to escape into a world of order and sense. They want to lose themselves in a place where justice, fairness, and goodness ultimately win the day. Take ten minutes and watch the news today - now’s that’s a Pandora’s Box -  and, I’ll happily pick up any book that promises me a respite from all of it.

A mystery? A nail biter? No. It's just a BLUE DRESS!

1 comment:

Meredith Cole said...

Oh no! Hope everyone is well again in your household (and the pipes are fixed). This has been a brutal winter all around for illness--and pipes bursting. But perhaps after this last bit off snow tomorrow it will FINALLY be spring. Believe I'll go and read a mystery now...