Did you read mysteries as a child? Saturdays often found me at the library, lost in Nancy Drew’s dangerous world.
I shared one bathroom with six others, but Nancy introduced me to the exotic world of an only child.
Nancy’s father rewarded her for solving mysteries with lots of money. Five dollars, even. My dad made me hoe the garden and gave me a daily quarter for school lunch.
Cool stuff happened to beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed Nancy. Nothing cool happened to geeky, brown-eyed, brown-haired Rachael.
Besides, Nancy wasn’t afraid of anything.
Conversely, my parents nicknamed me “Chicken Little.” The sky fell daily and hit me on the head. Which explains a lot of things. …
When a newspaper reported a huge monster loose in Detroit one summer, I locked all our windows, broiling my family like Fourth-of-July hamburgers.
My parents tried to monitor my reading material and television, including “The Twilight Zone” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” My teenage secret: Oz’s Wicked Witch still sent shivers up my spine.
Now, when creepy movie music slithers into the family room, I barricade myself with sofa pillows. I’ve spent far more time under theater seats than in them.
I read and write mysteries during broad daylight or when Hubby’s home. Otherwise, I lie awake, counting nighttime noises traceable to chain saw and ax murderers, respectively.
How can I read — let alone, write — mysteries?
Detectives intrigue me, especially Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who matches sharp old wits against naïve criminals who underestimate her. Other favorites: Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and TV’s Adrian Monk. I celebrate Sherlock Holmes’ strange genius.
I love piecing together mysteries like jigsaw puzzles, to be solved by strong, funny women who eat pie without gaining an ounce.
However, I prefer that muggers attack imaginary people in dark alleys and that murderers enter elevators elsewhere, not in my hotel.
Research alone rattles me. Once I hiked through a for-real, p-p-pirate cave alone. Gulp.
After investigating weapons online, I receive pop-ups with way too much (shudder) information. My Internet history probably has put me on a CIA list.
Fine. They can find me hoeing my garden.
Mystery writers’ spouses also face unique challenges. Once, at a local restaurant, I asked my physician husband about intentional drug overdoses.
“Keep your voice down,” he hissed. “I don’t do that!”
Hey, living with him isn’t easy, either.
However, as I consider how to kill my latest victim, I wish Hubby wasn’t gone. That it wasn’t nighttime, with sinister shadows lurking outside.
I’m not Nancy Drew.
And they never did track down that monster in Detroit. …
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Who’s your favorite mystery writer?