The Red Herrings of life. Those rabbit trails we follow, not because they aid us in discovery of who we are or what we are meant to do, but they offer what appears to be a shortcut to the solution. They can aid us in avoiding the powerful questions of life.

Me: Columbo’s a brilliant detective people don’t take seriously cause of how he dresses and acts.
Daughter: So like you Daddy.

-Facebook post on Convo of August 15, 2018 explaining Columbo to my kid

It is the lesson learned if one is a student or fan of the mystery. From suspense (ala original Saw movie or Alfred Hitchcock) to the police procedural (Law & order; Criminal Minds; Ironside; Precient 83) to hardboiled detective (Mike Hammer; Sledge Hammer; Spenser & Hawk) or character driven (Jesse Stone, Alex Delaware, Harry Bosch, Sunny Randall) to the cozy (Murder, She Wrote; Diagnosis Murder; Perry Mason; Columbo) to spies (Jack Ryan; Jack Reacher; Bond-James Bond), the British (or deductive/inductive) of Miss Marple; Poirot; Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson, Broadchurch or DI Rebus; (anything by Minette Walters) or due to translation the emerging Nordic…there is something about a puzzle.

Whether it is a heist, a cover-up; saving the world; nefarious evil or just simple murder it is the winding path of discovery laid out before us. Some literary historians put forward Poe’s Purloined Letter as the first modern mystery, if you want that small of scope I can say sure. But it misses the point in the breadth and depth of the genre. What is Shakespeare’s Hamlet if not the mystery of character driven discovery (ala Jesse Stone) and ending a cover-up (like a spy novel) or ancient myths with Pandora’s Box; Prometheus and Fire; Cain & Abel or the story of Tamar.

Each a mystery.

Each having rabbit trails even when the truth can be there if you just look deeply for the facts. Those facts are not simply just data points, coding, or other labels. Those facts are the intangibles of the character of the person, the soft-squishy skills of being human. As well, as the question of what intrinsic worth- what drives the person. For in everyone’s story they believe they are the hero.

The question the mystery genre brings forward for us is a bit deeper if we wish it to be. Are we truly the hero of our story, or simply followed the false leads and red herrings? That is, are we authentically who we are created to be? Or have we become what others have led us to be?

Life, it is a mystery.

Will you accept the challenge of solving the puzzle of Y-O-U.

  1. Ty says:

    Yes I realize I missed some greats like Stephanie Plum, Longmire and Veronica Mars. For the younger set also missed such ones as Encyclopedia Brown, Basil of Bakerstreet (Great Mouse Detective for the Disney Fans) and the classics- Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s