Why Do We Love Reading about Murder?

Why do we love murder mysteries? What makes them so popular? I have some thoughts, but I’d love to hear your ideas. Why read murder mysteries?

1. Crime is an engrossing subject. If I have a choice of reading an article about inflation or about a dentist who poisoned his wife, I’ll go with the bad boy dentist. Crime stories have unpleasant and downright tragic elements, but we do enjoy fiction that takes us into this world of adventure.

2. Puzzles are fun to solve. I love the whodunit element of mysteries. I appreciate writers who provide enough but not too many clues. Unreliable narrators don’t play fair but can be fun.

3. Mysteries take us around the world, from Paris to Phoenix to Singapore. My particular favorite place is an English village, which I feel I know well from my favorite authors. I could find my way around a pub blindfolded.

4. We learn strange and intriguing things from crime fiction, like how bodies decompose, what stomach contents reveal, how blood spatter tells a story, and which poisons are most efficient.

5. Mysteries have protagonists on a quest to find the truth. The main character may have faults, from Sherlock Holmes and his drug addiction to modern sleuths with PTSD and dysfunctional life styles, but they strive to discover the villain. I like to cheer them on even when they falter.

What are your thoughts on the popularity of crime fiction?