Like most genres, mysteries are full of tropes and patterns, sure. And, if you dwell too long on them, it sucks the fun out of everything. Because, it’s true what they say, there are no truly original ideas. Every story told is a version of one that came before it. Even the first story ever told was based on something. So, yeah, searching for true novelty in novels tends to leave a bitter sense of disappointment in its wake. Form is important—it’s what makes one genre different from another and often what makes a good story different than an average one. But, if you get too wrapped up in whether a story follows or deviates from form, you too often lose sight of the story itself. Sometimes, you need to let go a little and just let the story take you; allow the ride to take you where it’s going on its terms instead of guessing what may or may not be coming six chapters later.
Another popular mystery figure who’s been revived over and over again to unending delight of fans is none other than the famous Sherlock Holmes. To be quite honest, I never got into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing; his style never quite clicking with my oh-so modern tastes. But, the recent incarnations of him—from House to Bones, from Robert Downey Jr. to Benedict Cumberbatch—I am in love with all of them. I am Sher-Locked. There’s something about a hyper-intelligent person with that kind of driven passion that clutches the nerd-girl in me by the heart strings. No matter what the version, these modern takes on this legendary detective absolutely capture me. You just can’t help but marvel as you Watson along the trail of the crime, feeling a tiny touch closer to greatness. He is proof that various styles and forms may come in and out of favor, but brains are always in fashion.
I’m not going to lie to you; I’ve turned into the type of reader who reads the last few pages of a novel, just to be sure I know where I’m going. I absolutely spoil myself so I don’t spend the entire time guessing instead of just enjoying the story. Because, like sex and love and life itself, if you’re spending too much time in your own head, thinking too hard about that climax, chances are good it’ll only disappoint. Because you’ve rushed from beginning to end without taking the time to enjoy the middle. Of all the genres I read, of all the story types I consume, mystery teaches me time and again that how I get to that end—the savored anticipation and carefully built pleasure of the tale—is always far more important than where I actually end up.