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Psychological mysteries a popular genre

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | February 10, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Several of my friends and acquaintances tease me for being such an avid fan of Hallmark Movies and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

"Too sappy, too unrealistic, too unintelligent," they say.

I just smile and reply, "Well, given the state of today's world, we can all use a bit of hope and cheer."

After that rejoinder, I wonder what they would think about my recent penchant for enjoying the psychological mysteries created by several female authors whose works keep popping up on various bestselling book lists.

While I and many of us rapacious readers must wait for late spring and early summer to bring home the latest novels of Louise Penny, Kathy Reichs, Linda Castillo, Elin Hilderbrand, or Kristin Hannah -- along with David Baldacci, Daniel Silva, John Grisham, James Lee Burke -- we must find some literary way to keep ourselves engrossed and entertained.

At the moment, I am well into Australian Sally Hepworth's latest, "The Younger Wife," and have made a promise to check out her critically popular debut page-turner, "The Good Sister." I must agree Hepworth's current offering reviewer who said, "Smart, suspenseful, and brimming with secrets. This is Sally Hepworth at her putdownable best."

Just last month, I raced through American Mary Kubica's latest stand-alone novel, "Just the Nicest Couple." How did it happen that I have only perused three of her eight books after being thoroughly entranced with "The Good Girl," "Local Woman Missing," and "The Other Mrs."?

Not surprisingly, the most recent of her belles-lettres is mesmerizing and I recommend it highly.

English actress and author, Catherine Steadman, knows full well how to quickly draw readers into the convoluted tales of her good works -- "Something In The Water," "Mr. Nobody," "The Disappearing Act," and "The Family Game."

Just when Steadman fans believe they have figured out the twists and turns of her plot lines, she throws them off the track. But, isn't that what most successful writers do with their highly imaginative scenarios?

Some readers might find such suspense-filled literature somewhat off-putting or even a bit too dark for their liking. I suppose I am so intrigued by these artful selections and the clever manner in which the authors present their characters to us that curiosity out rules creepiness and I never have nightmares from digesting the complex results of these gifted individuals' labors of love.

As an aficionado of language, I am always curious about how authors come up with their stories and then present them to all of us who treasure just a mere fraction of some of the books that are published every year.

If fear ever overcomes my enjoyment and fascination with this printed genre, I can always take a break and go on a steady diet of Hallmark films.

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