A few months back, I saw this new Netflix movie called Murder Mystery. It’s supposed to be an Agatha Christie style comedic thriller movie where a couple goes to Europe on vacation and meets a man on the plane that invites him to spend their vacation with him and his family. Turns out, the family has a lot of messed up things going on and what was supposed to be the first vacation this couple goes on turns out to be a huge adventure-packed journey to find out who killed the patriarch of this family.
For all intents and purposes, this movie was made to be funny and funny it was. But what I loved the most about this movie is how it caters so much to thriller readers. You see, Jennifer Aniston’s character loves to read old crime fiction novels like Agatha Christie and when it comes to finding out the killer, she uses all her skills taught by her favorite hobby. If you want to watch the trailer for more, here it is.
And after reading The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, I was thinking about my habits when reading a thriller. Similarly to Jennifer Aniston, the cogs in my head start to turn the moment I open the book and I try to decipher from the very first page who the killer is.
Whenever I dive into a thriller, it’s the only thing I think about. I mean, I also think about the plot and characters and all that, but I also think about the event taking place. If the killer is unknown, then these pages are the evidence I need to find out. If the killer is known, then the book is me determining if the killer could actually pull off what they’re doing.
Instantly, I become an amateur sleuth. I’m hunting the pages like a bloodhound for the clues up to the end. I’m Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass and my weird hat. It’s kind of what I love about the genre; citing moments that felt suspicious, taking into account each character and their motives, finding out who did it all and being utterly surprised. Of course, there are moments where I’m shocked beyond belief, but most of the times I put my bets on certain characters and see if I was right at the end.
I’ll always think of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo and how it gives you exactly that; just a few hints here and there that you may pass off as non-essential and then suddenly you’re seeing a half-naked killer without any nipples and your brain just triggers back to that moment when you read it. Ahh…memories.
But I always think that reading benefits people in some way and for me, it’s more than just finding out the killer. If anything, reading thrillers changes the way you think. While you’re enjoying the book, you’re also taking into account the finer details that would might normally overlook. And if you’re lucky, it might make you change the way you see people in the world. Granted, you’re not looking for a murderer in your real life, but you start to take into account the smaller details. Perhaps you can see that mug of juice that’s so close to the edge of your counter. Perhaps you need to find your phone that you left somewhere in your house. Perhaps a coworker presents you with a problem that needs to be solving and then all of a sudden your sleuth skills activate and you’re getting down to the bottom of it.
I also would argue it works your logic muscles. Being logical in thriller means that if someone says it’s ghosts, it’s most definitely not ghosts. It means that you’re not easily fooled by a macguffin or anything that reads like a red herring. In all actuality, you transform into one of the characters from my favorite movie, Clue. And honestly, I kind of like seeing the world through that lens every once in a while.
So what books turn you into an amateur sleuth? Are you a regular Holmes during your days?