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There are times when I feel like reading a good old fashioned mystery. I want to follow the detective around while he gathers the pieces to a murder puzzle and assembles them, trying one combination and then another. I'm looking for a strictly intellectual experience. I don't want to shoot guns or be shot at or race around in fast cars, pursued by evil men, or even punch anyone in the face. When I feel like action I will read a thriller.

Unfortunately publishers won't let mysteries be mysteries these days. Every book has to be fast paced and filled with breath taking thrills. I settle down with a mystery, ready to be intrigued by a knotty puzzle and all of sudden things are exploding, and the detective's blasting away with a lovingly described brand of firearm I care nothing about, and the baddies have captured his cat to force him to give up the investigation. Am I the only reader who sometimes wants his detectives to sit and think?

Luckily I think I have found a way to find the sort of mysteries I prefer (when I'm in the mood for that sort of mystery). I look for books about aging detectives.

For example I quite enjoyed Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter. Chief Inspector Morse's investigation is interrupted by a hospital stay, not because he's shot or hit over the head, but thanks to a diagnosis of diabetes. The main threat he faces is to his ability to drink real ale. Aside from the obligatory murders the only violence is Morse needing to give himself insulin injections. And I'm sure, a newer author would have included a finale where Morse, suddenly attacked, plunges an insulin syringe into the assailant's eye.

Another mystery that met my lack-of-thrills criterion was Self's Murder by Bernhard Schlink. The detective, Herr Self is seventy. As the book begins he is leaving hospital following a heart attack. The only heart stopping action is his second attack toward the end of the book. There is one brief shoot-out, I'm sorry to say, but Self is not shooting or shot at. And of course a man with a bad ticker can't be racing the clock. For most of the book Self regrets being too slow. Too slow on the uptake, too slow to speak, too slow to react. Just my kind of sleuth.

I'm thinking of reading a P.D.James mystery next. I understand her detective Dalgliesh is over eighty now. Sounds promising.

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