Absolutely Amazing Five-Minute Mysteries

[openbook booknumber=”0762417722″]


The byline of this novel is “40 New Cases of Murder and Mayhem for You to Solve”, which is precisely what this novel contains. My husband and I decided we wanted MOAR mystery after reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes so we decided to read Absolutely Amazing Five-Minute Mysteries together, a book that we had picked up at a brown bag book sale at a local elementary school a long time ago.

The mysteries turned out to be tough. You read the beginning of the mystery and then had to guess the end yourself. To check to see if you were right you had to flip to the back of the book to read the solution, a la the Clue books of my childhood. We got to be pretty good towards the middle and end of the novel at really reading the short stories and trying to pick up on all of the clues. There were a few things working against us though.

Of course, it happened again. I know, I know… it was my own fault. What’s so irritating is that, even as it was coming out of my mouth, I clued in that whoever shot the eland, it wasn’t Hank Lipsett. But that didn’t stop Domie from shaking his head like I’m some kind of idiot, or stop him either from saying, “Missed some elementary stuff, my dear Watson, didn’t you?”

The first was that the book was written in 2002, so there were a few things that have changed in those years that made a mystery’s clues obsolete. This was particularly true of the ones that involved computers. Also, as far as the computer based ones went, we ended up thinking WAY TOO HARD about the clues and it was always something obvious and safe that someone totally computer illiterate would have been able to get. Which was probably the safest way to go back then. Though, again, technology has changed and advanced since then and in some ways, even for 2002, there were things that just weren’t taken into consideration because the technology wasn’t main stream enough for the audience (though it would have been perfect for the crooks involved).

There was an excellent cross section of mysteries involved, some dating from the Victorian period on up to our techy modern day, some involving detectives, some insurance officers, some police, some the military. There is something for everyone in this short novel, but it’s definitely a brain stretcher that should be done with friends. It is particularly fun to read one and figure it out in advance and then sit back and be smug while you watch someone else go through the same leaps (and missteps) in logic that you did to solve it.

Rated three stars because it’s not as much fun to read and figure it out on your own, and because of the dated references that the writer couldn’t help but that did make one or two of the mysteries impossible to solve.

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