Mysteries–A Perfect Circle
I’ve often wondered why so many people, including me, love mysteries.
I think part of the reason may be that a good mystery is like a perfect circle. And I
suspect many of us take comfort in things that are logical and complete.
Why do I compare mysteries to a circle? Here’s my reasoning. At the beginning of the story there’s a crime. That’s the starting point of the circle and our mystery’s journey.
We move around the circle as we engage the plot with all its twists and turns. We
begin to meet the story’s characters but more importantly we’re introduced to our
detective. We closely follow our detective as information and clues are revealed.
As we gather facts, our hope is that we will complete the circle–uncover the
culprit–at the same time as our detective.
As simple as this may sound, there are some basic rules to follow when building a perfect circle. During our journey there should be no breaks in the circle. Clues cannot be left out. The writer should present the reader with everything needed to solve the crime. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an occasional red herring or a few pieces of information
that are presented to mislead. While these are designed to throw us off track, we
eventually cast them out of the circle and continue our progress around the
By the end of our journey, as Hercule Poirot would say, “all must be revealed.”
The circle is closed. There is a return to normal even if individual
circumstances have changed.
I like circles. I like the good feeling that comes from knowing that all the pieces fit together. I like mysteries for this same reason. Do you like circles?