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Why Do You Read Mysteries?

By Sharon Lynn

“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” -Alfred Hitchcock

I trace my fear of total darkness to growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona, an
International Dark City. When the sun goes down, it is so dark you can see the Milky Way. Beautiful, but also scary when walking home at night.


The ancient Greeks knew that watching tragic drama released tension and stress in the audience. The cathartic reaction is where we experience intense emotions and then cast them off because nothing terrible actually happened to us.

Modern Mystery and Thriller

Mysteries create that same cathartic reaction. Personally, I love to see a
heroine trapped in the dark or snowed in. My jaw clenches in tension, I
pull my knees up to my chest, and I can’t look away from the page. When
the sweet relief of safety finally unfolds, I rejoice, all the while content and happy with a cup of tea by my side.

Death on Tap

In my short story, Death on Tap my heroine runs through the pitch black of night in an ill-advised attempt to catch a murderer. The story was included in the aptly named anthology, SoWest: Killer Nights.

What Scares You?

What makes you so scared you can’t stop reading until the hero is safe? Share your favorite stories!

Connect with Sharon Lynn:

Sharon Lynn

Sharon Lynn’s mystery short stories, Final Curtain (2020) and Death on Tap (2017) are published in anthologies by Malice Domestic and Sisters in Crime’s Desert Sleuths. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Saralyn Richard

    Great post, Sharon. I enjoy the tension and release of tension in mysteries, and I like scenes where the protagonist is caught in physical danger. Even more, I like it when there is a substantial emotional trap to be saved from. Mysteries hold that intellectual and emotional puzzle that bind authors to readers. The fear factor becomes the fun factor for me.

    1. Sharon Lynn
      Sharon Lynn

      I love to figure out the puzzles in mysteries. Or any place. You should see my iPad – it’s covered in different puzzle games. I usually fall back on crosswords.

  2. Avanti Centrae
    Avanti Centrae

    For me, mysteries are puzzles begging to be solved. It’s great fun to parse the red herrings from real clues, and try to figure out ‘who-dun-it.’

    1. Sharon Lynn
      Sharon Lynn

      Nothing drives me battier than when a solution is presented with absolutely zero foreshadowings and no way to figure it out for yourself. That’s the fun part!

  3. Joy Ribar
    Joy Ribar

    Why mysteries? I love to follow clues and see if I can figure out the solution before it is revealed. And in scary mysteries, there’s something very fun about talking to characters on the page and telling them not to go here or there, not in the dark, and for Pete’s sake, not alone! Do they ever listen to me? Of course not – but the adrenaline rush I share with those characters is very real.

    1. Sharon Lynn
      Sharon Lynn

      hehehe – “for Pete’s sake, not alone!” Exactly! I want to reach in and pull them to safety, for their own good.

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