What makes a book interesting? Individual tastes vary. What’s interesting to me might not be interesting to you. The mystery genre has a wide variety of subgenres because every reader has their own likes and dislikes. My taste runs to light-hearted, non-gory, cozy mysteries. (Though I do like a good courtroom drama, too.) Everyone’s different so it’s a blessing that in today’s market, we have quite a selection to choose from.
Cozies are heavy on character development. The murder is not gruesome, the sleuth is an amateur and there’s not a lot of violence or sex or swearing. And usually, no children or animals are hurt in the making of the book. J I read for fun and enjoyment—no heavy duty details or moral issues to be dealt with. I hesitate to say cozies are formulaic, but to a certain degree that’s exactly what they are. But I love, love, love this subgenre.
Having said all that, I participate in a few reading challenges each year. The Alphabet Challenge (read a book starting with every letter of the alphabet), The Cruisin’ Thru The Cozies Challenge (where you fill in different categories) and the Reporter’s Challenge (which I host every year on GoodReads). In order to complete these challenges, sometimes I’m ‘forced’ to read a mystery book that’s not a cozy so I can fill in all the categories. I have found many delightful books that I wouldn’t normally pick up if it weren’t for the challenges.
Here’s the things I like about a book that make it interesting to me:
T1) The beginning grabs my interest from the get-go.
I enjoy being hooked from the start… with a good pace… never letting my interest flag.
One book I read this year was Vanished In The Dunes by Allan Retzky. Now I never would have selected this novel if it weren’t for the fact that I needed to read a book starting with a ‘V’ for the Alphabet Challenge. It was gripping and suspenseful and interesting!
T2) The setting is fun.
If it’s a place—I adore a small town setting and a small town on the beach is even better. Or on an island. Or on a cruise. Or anywhere in Europe. Or historical.
If it’s an event—the author gives me something that I’m interested in experiencing (or have experienced). Such as the story takes place during a ghost tour, or during a writing conference, or during a vacation.
Historical mysteries are great fun, too. Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins grabbed my attention in several ways. First, it’s an interesting time period—1920’s during prohibition. Second, it’s set in a speakeasy which caught my interest. Third, it’s set in my hometown of Chicago and I was aware of the places and people she included in the story.
3) The writing is flawless.
Some books are so well-written, the words just flow. I’ve noticed the difference—wish I could articulate what that difference is J)
(Ex: The Hat Shop Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay, The Ballroom Dance Mysteries by Ella Barrick)
4) I’m not even interested in whodunit because I almost always finger the killer. (It’s a curse—my daughters won’t watch TV mysteries with me unless I promise to keep quiet).