|Book 1 in series--Edgar Nominated!|
What’s So Funny About Murder?
by Shelley Costa
The answer in the real world, of course, is nothing. So how do we mystery writers who put humor on the page get away with treating the subject lightly? In some ways, funny murder mysteries are actually about something other than, well, murder. The murder becomes a kind of springboard for writing a comical tale about a set of interesting characters flung together to investigate the crime. The victim -- in a cozy – is typically someone we readers either don’t know particularly well (usually because s/he’s killed off in the first or second chapter), or the other characters don’t know particularly well, or is someone odious enough to take the edge off just how much we care about what’s befallen him or her. In some sense, the lighthearted mystery is more about the mixed-bag relationships among the living than it is about whatever led up to the murderous moment between killer and victim.
|Book 2 in series--Guaranteed to make you laugh!|
But infusing some humor into a tale about something as ancient and dire and wicked as homicide is also a way of distancing us – writers and readers alike – from the awfulness. Is that a good thing? What does that little bit of distance do for us? I think it lets us experience a story about crime and punishment from a place other than fear or disquiet. If we’re not scared or disturbed (which is the work, say, of the thriller or suspense novel), then we’re freed up to investigate alongside the sleuth. To employ our own little grey cells in the contemplation of the crime. In that, I do believe, there is great pleasure. Humor is a way of setting us up in our own little Olympian heights, safe from the fray on the page. There we take in the overview, consider the clues, glance skeptically at the suspects’ stories, formulate a hypothesis. And along the way, we laugh. It’s a ride I’m always ready to climb aboard. Join me!
Next up is the first book in a new series, Practical Sins For Cold Climates (Henery Press, January 2016), featuring thirtysomething sleuth, Valjean Cameron, a New York editor sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive bestselling author to a book contract. But first she has to find him — a tricky thing to do in her Prada heels. Practical Sins is a traditional amateur sleuth mystery. S
Note from Jackie King:
This is the second post in my series of MYSTERIES THAT MAKE US LAUGH featuring my panel-mates at Malice Domestic 27, held the first of May.
More to come!