Riveting Mystery Books That Will Still Allow You to Sleep at Night

Recently I’ve picked up a few popular psychological thrillers to read. I kept seeing them advertised everywhere, so I started making a list of the one’s I thought looked interesting. I’ve made it through two in the past couple weeks, but I stopped reading my most recent find only a few chapters in. I got the feeling it was going to be a bit too gory, so, long story short (too late), I read some reviews and found out real fast that finishing that book was not going to happen.

Classic mystery stories are a big part of what got me hooked on literature in the first place. I’ve always loved a good mystery. So what happened to those good ole fashioned ghost stories and mystery tales? I don’t know, honestly. But I wish someone would bring them back.

In the meantime, here’s a list of a few mysterious but not-too-scary books. Happy haunting!

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)

A group of ten people arrive on Indian Island, though their host remains unknown. After dinner the first night of the guests’ arrival, a gramophone message announces the guests to be accused of murder – and they will pay. One by one, guests begin to disappear. This is a mystery story of intrigue and secrets.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (first appearance made in 1887-1927)

Sherlock Holmes is a detective whose stories are narrated by his friend and counterpart, Dr. Watson. The duo have become quite a popular pair over the years. The complete works total four novels and fifty-six short stories. Holmes cares not for cleanliness; it is his cleverness that has allured readers for over a century.

“The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

This short story is narrated by one of Poe’s famous unreliable narrators. The unnamed teller of the tale recounts having murdered an older man who apparently never wronged him. Thus the motive for the murder remains masked. However, the details which lead to the actual murder are described quite vividly. All the while, the narrator insists that he is sane. You be the judge.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

We have this book to thank for all the vampire novels we are still reading (and shows we’re watching) today. I love that these stories are still with us! In the 1897 version of Dracula, the vampire attempts to move to England from his home in Transylvania because he basically wants to spread vampirism. He gets into quite a tiff with Van Helsing along the way, and wah-lah: you have an epic vampire tale.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Captain Robert Walton writes to his sister the story of Victor Frankenstein. While in college, Frankenstein became rather obsessed with life and immortality and excelled in his studies of chemistry. The combination of his desire to generate life and his knowledge of science make for a deadly combination, so to speak, when he creates his Creature. This Creature turns evil (to no one’s surprise) and seeks revenge on Frankenstein.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde are quite opposites, but interesting enough, it’s discovered early in the novel that Dr. Jekyll has made Edward Hyde his beneficiary. Hyde has some secrets to hide, while Jekyll is well-liked and respected in society. The link between the two becomes blurred, but as it turns out, Jekyll drinks a serum in order to become Hyde. The struggle between the two personas becomes one of riveting plight.

The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1606)

You’re probably not going to pick this one up for a quick read, but it is actually Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy. Macbeth believes himself to be destined to become king, and he decided, at the urging of his wife, to do whatever it takes to become king. Shakespeare shows us what can happen to those who seek power for selfish ambition. Macbeth is a story of witches, murder, and unveiled mystery.

Fear Street by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps and Fear Street are two of the series that got me hooked on reading. (Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series is one of my now favorites.) I can’t help but give them a shout out since having been introduced to these books led me to my love of literature.
Let me know any mysteries you like, too!

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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It’s never too late to be wise.
Robinson Crusoe


Robinson Crusoe
was published in 1719. Written by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe is the tale of a man who dreams of becoming a sailor and has adventure far beyond those dreams.

The first few pages open with an explanation from Crusoe about his desire to have a life at sea and his father’s wish for him to find a different desire. Crusoe’s father has a serious conversation with him about the casualties and discomforts of such a life. He explains all the benefits living a middle class lifestyle provides, telling Crusoe that many people would be elated to have the opportunity to live a life in “the middle station.” His effort (and tearful plea) to persuade Crusoe against going to sea moves Crusoe – but only for a year’s time. Desire ultimately gets the better of him, so he leaves on a whim without a word to his parents.

Crusoe’s first voyage includes two storms, the first of which scares Crusoe terribly. He prays to God to save him, promising he will return home once upon land. Yet he forgets that promise once the storm passes, but when the next one approaches, he immediately regrets abandoning his prior conviction. But again, this storm passes, Crusoe reaches dry land, and, even after being warned by the master of the ship that misfortune at sea seems to follow him (Crusoe), he presses on to another voyage.

From there, Crusoe sets sail, is captured, becomes enslaved, strategically escapes, and surprisingly enough, lands himself in “the Brazils.” He becomes a plantation owner and lives there for about four years before volunteering to sail to Guinea. Yet it is on this voyage, great calamity strikes: Crusoe is shipwrecked on a deserted island as the lone survivor.

Amazingly, Crusoe doesn’t only focus on the fact that he is all alone on an island. Instead, he makes a home for himself there, establishing first his very basic needs, such as finding food, building shelter, and, later, constructing amenities such as a table and chair. A year into Crusoe’s journey, he becomes very ill with fever, which he later discovers is due in large part to not having calculated and planned for the rainy season on the island. As he’s recovering, Crusoe has a dream of warning. Though this dream is similar to that of John’s on the island of Patmos, Crusoe’s dream is one that prompts the true beginning of his spiritual journey. When he wakes, he begins reading the Bible, praying to God, and ultimately growing spiritually. Dangerous currents, terrifying storms, feasting cannibals, and the fear of the unknown make for a serious adventure story.

Several genres influenced the creation of Robinson Crusoe, such as travel books and conversion narratives. Crusoe describes in great detail his labor, his daily comings and goings, and his life on the island. Since travel books were popular during this time, Crusoe’s story of life abroad would certainly have been one of great interest to the general public. It’s clear from the beginning of the novel that Crusoe is telling his story from a future perspective, as he is able to look back on certain situations as he retells them and mention times when he didn’t listen to reason – or to God. (There are echoes of Biblical stories in his tale, such as the Prodigal Son and Job.)

The text reads as though it were written in the early 1700s, so before you pick a copy, do be aware of that. However, even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of eighteenth-century prose, my guess is that you’ll appreciate the adventure part of the story regardless. There are times you’ll want to knock some sense into Crusoe, as the saying goes, and others where you’ll be relieved of his decisions, but I’d say the fact that you’re bound to feel this way only goes to show Defoe’s craftiness in creating the character of Robinson Crusoe.

Feel free to message me with questions or let me know your thoughts as well! Happy reading!

When the Choice You Need to Make Isn’t the One Culture Suggests

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Making decisions is difficult, but they become increasingly stressful when the choice you need to make isn’t the one culture suggests. In those circumstances, it’s important we turn to Scripture to seek guidance.

But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self–control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.
2 Timothy 3: 1-5

So many of the things listed in the above verses have become “the norm.” Doesn’t culture tell us to be “lovers of pleasure” (v. 4a)? In doing so, culture simultaneously and consequently tells us to choose pleasure “rather than [be] lovers of God” (v. 4b). And isn’t money held in highest esteem? Isn’t boasting, pride, and conceit traits which are encouraged amongst society?

The conflict of culture versus God isn’t anything new. Let’s consider Sarah. God promised Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai at the time, pre name change) that they would have many descendants (Genesis 12:2); however, they were older and by Genesis chapter 16, Sarah was tired of waiting and thus decided to take matters into her own hands. She told her husband to take Hagar as his wife, to which Abraham did not object. What we must keep in mind is that Sarah’s suggestion was a cultural norm at the time. While we balk and gawk at this decision, having your maidservant sub in during Sarah’s day and age was anything but unheard of; in fact, it was common practice.

It’s hard not to wonder, though, what Sarah felt or thought, deep down. If she’d been honest with herself, did she feel ill at ease with this idea? Had she hoped Abraham would object to this proposition? Culture told her one thing, but God had told her something different.

Culture tells us that we can say we are Christians but continue to act in sinful ways. Yet Scripture warns of people who will be “holding to the form of godliness but denying its power” (v. 5). So what must we do to hold to the form of godliness but embrace God’s power? We must allow God to come into our lives and invade our every day. Think about when a king or queen entered a room during his or her reign. Absolutely everything changed. The room straightened. The atmosphere shifted from one of lax to one of authority. So, too, are our lives to change when we ask Christ to be our king. He is to engulf every part of our lives so that our life is completely different, as though a king has entered it. When the Risen King enters our life, nothing can be the same. Culture tells us one thing, but God calls us to something different.

Timothy is pretty forthright here. Not only does he provide a detailed explanation of how people will become, he says to avoid these people. (See also 1 Corinthians 15:33.) Timothy was warning his audience so that they would not be influenced by such acts. We are to love God and love others (Luke 10:27), but we aren’t to allow ourselves to become corrupt in the process. James chapter 4, verse 7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Being like Christ only when it’s convenient and putting ourselves in situations we know we’ll be tempted isn’t part of the deal. But doesn’t culture imply this is ok?

Sometimes in life there comes a time when you must make a decision to go the right way or the wrong one. Making right decisions is hard, and it’s hardly ever the popular route. But take comfort in knowing that this isn’t a surprise: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Have you made wrong decisions? Yes. We all have. We have all fallen short. But we are always given a choice to make new decisions. Every day we are given this opportunity. Christ gives us a chance to be redeemed, and He can redeem anything.

We can stand back and see the folly, but we have to make the decision to not be a part of it. And you can make that decision! Be encouraged that you are called to be a lover of God, and make the choice not to just know that, but to be that.