writing

In Defense of the Detective Novel

As I approach the publication of the final Pauline Gray mystery, I am reminded again of this post I wrote six years ago. I have been finding myself turning again to detective novels this past week, as the world has been shaken by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and I am certain that it is due to my instinctive need for the hope of justice and restoration that is implicit in such stories. Tomorrow, Secrets of the Past will be available for purchase in both ebook and print, and my sincere hope is that it brings the same sort of comfort to its readers that mysteries have always brought to me in times of chaos and grief.

StarDance Press

This essay came out of some thoughts I had on detective novels and their function in society. I’m not sure any of it is terribly earth-shattering–I’m fairly certain it’s all been said before–but it was important to me, so I wrote it all out, then decided it was worth polishing and sharing. So here it is.

Truth, justice, mercy. All very big, abstract concepts that can be hard to wrap our heads around in concrete terms. What is truth? How do we balance justice and mercy? To whom do we show justice, and when is mercy appropriate? If I were to tell you I was writing a story exploring these concepts, you might reasonably expect some weighty, literary piece of work, with dense prose and a somber tone. What you might not expect would be a detective novel.

Yet it is in mystery stories that I have had some of…

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1 thought on “In Defense of the Detective Novel”

  1. Thank you for reposting that. I had forgotten about it, even though I reblogged it at the time. But I think the concept of mystery novels as something we turn to in times of uncertainty has stuck with me ever since!

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