The Difference between a Mystery & the MysteryA Review & Discussion
Like many of you, I love a good mystery novel. Cozy, crime, serial killers, historical; I love them all. They are written with a very specific formula, usually following Frank Gruber‘s formula which first appeared in Brass Knuckles in 1966 & again in The Pulp Jungle in ’67. Yep, we are still like this. Like any genre there are specific conventions to adhere too, and mysteries have a nice solid eleven. I won’t go into detail, will save that for a real mystery book but I want these listed because I believe some folks are going to get this book confused with an actual mystery novel, and it just simply isn’t!
Note from the article -Frank Gruber’s 11-Point “Can’t Miss” Mystery Story Formula - “I did not create this 11-point formula at one time. I evolved it over a period of about two years beginning back in 1934. I had perfected it by about the middle of 1936.”
1- The Hero (protagonist)
2-The Theme (or subject matter)
3-The Villain (antagonist)
Those who have read North Dark are shaking your head going, “Wait a minute, there is too almost all these things!” Why yes there is, but it is how they’re applied that matter and which make the story involving “The Mystery” instead of being “A Mystery”. Lane is obviously someone who probably had way to much fun for his own good when he had to read Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick as an undergrad. I chuckled more than a few times at his esoteric paintbrush drenched in prose of darkness! (see where I did there?)
Hey! ;) I can see you going “Shit, there she goes again, I thought she was going to bounce a bit, compare it to food and maybe say wow a bunch of times if she liked it so much.” Smiling, well first, I did like it, second it is just not that kind of book. I won’t squeal and go all fan-girl on this writer. This is a author I want to buy a smokey double whiskey for, shake hands with and talk to the wee hours about symbolism in the modern lit fic genre scene. Yes Virginia, genre writers can actually write deep esoteric mind-fucking stories.
What I can tell you is there is no HEA* in this thing, it’s a true dystopian book, one even my resident proud card-carrying curmudgeon, proud 1984 shirt wearing, highbrow elitist of a literary snob would agree with. Oh I don’t believe he would like the book, because there are some actual flaws and oops and he is even more nitpicky than myself. But than again, are these really flaws or is it part of what “The Mystery” is about.
When you are presented with a mysterious event (what I have referred to as “The Mystery”) within the substance of the novel your mind will start whirling with possibilities with what is going on and what it all of it means. Yet there is that one hidden fact, for all the wonderful things you connect to and have thought of, the hidden thought that peeks through the ice is one you just can’t defrost enough to decipher.
The whole concept behind Citizen Kane, for an example, with Rosebud. It was not the idea of the sled but what the sled was tied too. The joy and emotional response and revelation you have when you discover what it represents at in the ending! The idea that a mystery and answers found, or not, with something written well enough that a literal, metaphoric,symbolic and even allegorical treatment within the story trap this mystery right at the tip of the iceberg (grin). Add in none of these are actually verified or resolved, this hint and idea you have tried to find and are searching for throughout the story… this, for me and those like me, are what makes stories like North Dark and others in this realm a good one.
Over all my experience reading this was exponentially different from what I was expecting after reading the synopsis. All the elements in it are there, but there is just so much more! If you want a “Happily Ever After” you will not get one here, unless you view the world through a dirty scratched pair of goggles as i do when reading stories such as this. It is a Post Apocalyptic, Dystopic suspense thriller. The main protagonist is his own antagonist, the villain is … well I just can’t tell you and the problems I had with it? I am not going to sully my review with them because they truly could be part of “The Mystery”, the ones I never figured out. . If you want an introspective mind-f***ery of awesomeness, this book is chuck full of if it. The author is one to watch out for and one I will be reading more of. Thanks for the read, Siren’s Call Publications!
----Triggers & warnings to those who want to read this: It is a wonderful dark and real read. It is wrought full of metaphor and mystery, your brain must be turned on. There is violence, it is necessary & not gratuitous. It is a real dystopian book, not a fluffy YA one with a coming of age love story, pretty rag dresses & rose-colored glasses, real like as in Fahrenheit 451 real! ***