Ah! Sweet mystery of life
At last I’ve found thee
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all!

Lyrics by Dick Scanlan

Murder mysteries are the morality plays of modern life. Instead of saints and sinners, you have cops and killers. Unless the cop is the killer, in which case you have an Everyman, or just as frequently, an Everywoman, to make sure justice prevails. Just like in real life.

That murder mysteries are strangely comforting is a conundrum I’ve given a lot of thought, just as I’ve given a lot of thought to using “conundrum” in a sentence. But it makes sense, after you have given it more thought than it probably deserves. The message in mysteries is 1) you just can’t go around killing people, and 2) things come out, if not all right, then just. That’s the comforting part, because in real life, well, it doesn’t. Not all the time.

The man of the place and I are addicted to mysteries. We bond every night by sitting in close proximity, watching Poirot, Morse, Foyle, Frost and countless others nobody has heard of but we love nonetheless. We slam through English television mysteries like they’re pints of luke-warm ale on a cold summer day, of which there are a lot in English mysteries, both pints and cold summer days, but not as many as in real life.

As many series as we go through, still more appear, in a sort of loaves and fishes way. God bless the British.

We’ve learned important life lessons from mysteries. Here is our own warped wisdom gained through not having real hobbies:

  • Don’t trust the ones who smile. Nobody can be that happy with a murderer on the loose.
  • Don’t live in small English villages, otherwise known as “Murder Zones.”
  • If there are minorities involved, it’s the white guy who did it.
  • White guys are creepy, especially the ones who smile.
  • Don’t get too attached to the really nice people. Two out of three times, the nice people did it, but they usually have a really, really good reason for offing someone. As if the rest of us didn’t.
  • Don’t trust inter-agency cooperation: for “outside law enforcement” read “buffoon, corrupt cop, obstructionist, and/or murderer.”
  • Nine out of ten people in wheelchairs don’t really need them, but use them as a cunning ruse to sneak around at night, getting revenge for being put in a wheelchair.
  • Nine out of ten people in wheelchairs forget to wipe off their dirty shoes.
  • Never tell the killer what you know, hoping he or she will “do the right thing.” You’ll be knocking on those pearly gates before you can say “bad idea.”
  • Never tell a cop you’ll give him an crucial bit of information tomorrow. Don’t make an appointment, for gosh sakes: you might as well wear a sign reading, “Slay me!” Instead of meeting that cop, again with the pearly gates.

The man of the house and I enjoy our time together. Speculating about who gets it next adds an element of surprise to our marriage. Musing on clues makes us appreciate the other’s intellect. Unveiling criminals adds a certain spice.

Add to that something that happens so seldom in a long marriage: now and then, we both get to be right at the same time.