I used to love reading mysteries: Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Ruth Rendell, those Swedish people, the Sue Graftons (up to H, anyway). And once in a while I try again, because I love the idea of mysteries, but it's been a long time since I've found one that doesn't engage in one of the following deal-breakers:
Excessive blood and gore. I know, it's murder, and murder's bloody, and I don't want to pretend otherwise. But I'm not interested in seeing the human body taken lovingly apart before my eyes, I'm really not. The last time I tried reading Henning Mankell (I think it was him), he described a person who had been skinned alive. Okay! Too much! That was a few years ago and I'm still nauseated. Not everyone interested in crime and puzzles is also into blood and guts. Even giving blood makes me pass out.
Serial Killers. I dislike serial killer novels for two reasons. For one, it seems too easy for the writer: as soon as things get slack, Oh no, he strikes again! When I was a kid watching The Incredible Hulk, I noticed that Bruce Banner consistently Hulked-out at 20 after, 40 after, and right before the end. Pretty soon I was more interested in timing the Hulkings-out than in following the story line. That's how I feel about serial killers.
Secondly, they're implausible. Yeah, Ted Bundy was real, and interesting, but all the serial killers after him seem like tired knock-offs. And real ones never act like the ones in books, killing according to a secret design that the detective, matching wits with the killer, has to figure out before another innocent dies.
Getting Into the Mind of the Killer. I don't want to be there. It's boring and it undercuts the tension. Getting into the mind tells you who the killer is, or else the author has to go through annoying acrobatics to keep it from you. Or it doesn't matter who it is, it's just some random serial killer. Why do authors think this technique adds to the storyline? They probably don't think this, but just need to fill pages. (Exception to this one: when the whole book is told from the killer's point of view.) Especially bad: when the killer's point of view is entirely in italics.
When the Detective is in Peril at the End. Gawd, I hate this. I especially hate when the detective and the bad guy are alone at the end and have to have some kind of hand-to-hand showdown. Of course this is a Hollywood thing, but it's bad there, too. What, is there some rule book out there that says the detective's gun has to fly away and the bad guy has to die quasi-accidentally, like falling on a big spike? Please spare me the spike ending.
So, seeing this list, you'd think I'd go for the Cozy Type Mystery, which seem designed for weak-stomached ladies like myself. But sadly, no. I tried a few, and they were, without exception, the most poorly written, implausible, creepy (in a bad way) things I'd ever read. In the new Cozies, the murder has to be Cute. Think about this: cute murder. In the three I read, the victim totally deserved it, because otherwise feelings of grief and injustice would undermine the coziness of it all. So a cute murder happens (stabbed with knitting needles, beaten with a pepper grinder, poisoned with special bad mushrooms) to a person who probably deserved it (town gossip, village show off, camp bully, summer person) and life goes on pretty much as usual in its charming small-town way until the sharp-eyed main character figures it out. Done skillfully, as in the Miss Marple books, this can be okay, but a really ingenious puzzle has to be at the center to make these work. The writers I read thought their ham-fisted attempts at cuteness would be enough. Nope. (Did you know that there are cozy mysteries based on pretty much any theme you can think of? There are Ceramics Mysteries, Candle-Making Mysteries, Bed-and-Breakfast ones, Mommy-track, figure skating, etc. Why is this depressing? I guess it's the idea that you have to be lured into a work of fiction by it being about your hobby -- about you!)
The last good mystery I read, and it was really more of an old-fashioned Gothic than a mystery, was Barbara Vine's The Minotaur. I loved that one. If you know any of any others that meet my requirements, let me know about them!
I mean, I really don't think I'm asking for too much.