"What does this mean?" I asked my grandmother.
About to leave for my first year of college, I was standing over her dining room table, sifting through the stack of condolence cards she had received after my first step-mother's death a few weeks earlier.
"I guess you've pulled out a stack of mysteries again," a college friend of hers had written.
"Oh," she sighed. "After your mother and brother died, I used to lie on the couch every afternoon before you came home from school and read an Agatha Christie novel. I couldn't bear real life, so I buried myself in mysteries in order to escape."
She shrugged her shoulders. My first stepmother had not generated the sort of love that my mother had, a decade earlier. My grandmother did not, in fact, require a pile of novels the second time around.
I was never much of a mystery reader myself.*** I can't stand suspense, and I certainly can't enjoy the artistry of a work of fiction ~ novel, play, film ~ if I am tortured by an uncertain ending. I almost always read the end of every book that comes my way within a few minutes of getting started. ( I've already read the synopses of all of this season's Downton episodes, which appeared in Britain months ago.)
Real life is enough perhaps?
But some months ago, inundated by challenges at work and reaching a point at which I felt I had nothing to say for myself about anything at all, I started reading mysteries.
The newest Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus book, which happened to come out just as I needed it.
All ten Inspector Gamache novels.
The first couple of the Kate Shugak series.
The three Grantchester books, which as of last Sunday night are appearing on television in Masterpiece Mystery form.
I'm not sure what this means. Approximately one mystery a week (and my work as pastor and college teacher requires a LOT of reading, plus I am always reading other books as well ). I have been practically inhaling murder and mayhem, geographic longing (I think everyone who reads Gamache wants to go to Quebec tomorrow, and I'm feeling the same way about Cambridge now that Grantchester has been launched), and the lives of characters whose personalities are as intriguing as the crimes they solve.
Maybe I'll review a few of them.
Maybe I'll figure out the appeal.
(***It seems that 1.5 years ago, I was equally baffled by a wave of mysteries in my life. Hmmmm.)