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Mystery Monday

Who wants to laugh?
Humor is a very subjective concept.  What is uproarious to one person may not even bring a smile to the lips of someone else.  Why the seemingly sophisticated French adore Jerry Lewis has been a real head scratcher to those who find his antics decidedly unfunny.  But what is a sense of humor and why does it vary so widely between individuals?  While everyone does possess a distinct sense of humor and may be amused by events that don't necessarily tickle another's funnybone, there are certain universal characteristics of humor that produce a humorous response. These are:
    Absurdity, ludicrousness, or ridiculousness
    Unexpected future
    pleasant surprise
    Being startled
    "Getting it"
    Emotional chaos remembered in tranquility
So, in order to have a sense of humor, one must have the capacity to appreciate any of the above mentioned feelings.  Given the importance of the individual's own personal experience in finding something rib tickling, is it any wonder that the one reader's advisory question no librarian likes to get is to find someone a funny book?  How would I know what someone else finds funny?  One of my most favorite books of all time is the now seldom read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.  No matter how many times I have read my battered copy, I howl with laughter as if it were the first time.  I love how he uses language so cleverly to describe hapless Jim's improbable, but all too human situations.  However, I would probably not recommend this book unless I was pretty sure of the reader's tastes.  What could be more awkward than enthusiastically sharing a funny book, that will cause head shaking amazement to the reader who wonders, she found this funny?

Humorous mysteries are no different than other humorous fiction, as they depend on the individual who will find it funny, or not.  While violent death may seem incongruous coupled with humor, they often go very well together. Certain mystery writers such as Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen are known for their very funny books.  However, here are some of the lesser known humorous mystery writers who deserve a reading.  possibly you will find one or two that will give you a chuckle in between the murders.

Donna Andrews--Her Meg Langslow mysteries are light and funny, featuring decorative blacksmith Meg and her crazy friends and family.  Sure to bring a smile to even the sourest disposition.

M.C. Beaton--Agatha Raisin is a character you love to hate.  Bad-tempered and brusque, this fiftyish sleuth is beloved by her fictional friends and the many fans of this series.

Tim Dorsey--Not sure you'd find serial killers funny?  Try one of Dorsey's Serge Storms novels and see if it can't get a laugh out of you.

Sue Ann Jaffarian--Okay, her sleuth Odelia Grey is fat and middle-aged, but she is a believable, charming and very funny.

Rita Lakin--Gladdy Gold, a spunky 75 year old and her eccentric cohorts  become amateur sleuths in these gentle romps set , where else, in Florida.

Lisa Lutz--Her stories of a wacky family who runs a detective agency--the Spellmans--will delight those who enjoy madcap comedies.

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