By Cathy Butterfield
Collections Manager

Conundrums, Characters, and Comeuppance

Mysteries have long dwelt in the critical shadows of the literary landscape. Luckily, true Mystery also thrives in shadow, where dark deeds are done, and only determined detectives dare to follow. 

Springing from the penny dreadfuls of the Victorian era, modern noir mysteries channel the sulfuric fogs of Dickensian London, peopled with doubtful dukes, fiendish footpads, and lurid ladies. 

The conditions that bred the classic mystery in the 19th century (opiates, injustice, inequity, cults, greed, violence) are still issues today, driving motive, means, and readers. Those cloistered mysteries diversified and traveled far in the 20th century. Whether set in Laos, London, or Laramie, the popular mystery still starts with a criminal conundrum and ends with a solution:

The fun is in the ride.