Why are murder mysteries so popular?

I've just read an interesting article in The University Daily Kansan, the student voice of the University of Kansas, which was brought to me courtesy of the Book2Book web site. It asked the question why so many people are fascinated with the crime/mystery genre.

The mystery genre is intensely popular. In the “Library Journal” Random House declared mysteries their most popular audio books. The ever-steady demand for the genre seems odd, given that most mystery novels concern what few people want to think about, claims the article, - death.

So why do so many people enjoy reading crime novels? I know from my own reading experience and my reader feedback that what people like is a puzzle to solve, a mystery to pit their wits against, a thrill, lots of action and the psychology of characters. Yes, in fiction justice is indeed served and the results neatly tied up, not like in messy real-life.

What do you think? Let me know.

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