The simplest definition of curiosity is a need to know. We are born with that need. Babies are extremely curious. Each of us is curious on some level. From that curiosity is born the love of mystery. Mysteries offer a chance to feed our curiosity in small bits or large chunks.
We are able to sit and read a cozy mystery by Agatha Christie. Her Miss Marple character is my favorite. Stephen King will also offer you an excellent mystery at the opposite end of the spectrum. He adds horror to many of his mysteries and keeps his readers on the edge of their chairs.
When did the love of mystery begin? No one knows for sure. There have been cave drawings telling stories of men being chased by wild animals or strange spirits in frightening masks. Without words, the curiosity of the human mind takes over, and the solving of a mystery begins.
Fairy Tales were written to teach lessons to children. They are like small mysteries in themselves. The adults hoped children would learn a lesson, but for a child, the mystery took over. They were told what happened to The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf and Hansel and Gretel, but I’m sure the children began to imagine worse case scenarios. They would have dreamed up bigger mysteries and solved them in their minds. I know that is what I did when I heard a scary story when I was a child.
When Mary Shelly or Bram Stoker put pen to paper to bring Frankenstein and Dracula to life for those able to read, they filled the curious mind with possibilities. That curiosity sprang more mystery to life in the minds of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft among others.
Mysteries fulfill the curiosity in most of us. We may not be able to climb a mountain to see what is on the other side or help the police hunt down a killer. However, when we pick up a mystery book we can do these things and more. We can be immediately transported to a different time or place. We meet characters we never would in our everyday lives. Our imaginations run wild trying to solve the mystery before the end of what we are reading. Our curiosity is satisfied.
Mysteries will be around as long as curious minds need something to solve.