I've decided I'm one cold-hearted bitch. But a little background first...
I cut my reading teeth on mysteries. There was a rough patch (around 6th grade) that found me working through some reading comprehension difficulties (amazing I know), but by 7th grade I was a reading machine. I loved me Nancy Drew (I actually read the "updated" Nancy Drew Files series that came out in the mid-late 1980s). Now I know a lot of you liked Sweet Valley High, but those books always made me want to puke. I wasn't pretty. I wasn't popular. The last thing I wanted to do was read about pretty, popular girls. Now Nancy was pretty. She was also popular. She also was dating that hunky Ned Nickerson. But she solved mysteries. She was really smart. Frankly she wasn't worried about whether or not Ned was going to ask her to the big dance.
I figured I had outgrown Nancy by the time I could read one of the books in a day - so I took to browsing the adult fiction collection at the library and read Marcia Muller, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, and by high school I was reading my first Patricia Cornwell novel.
I'll read across the board in mystery. Cozies with little to no violence to gory serial killer books with blood practically dripping off the page. But I've discovered I'm more of the "freak" here than the "norm." Why? I don't get nightmares from books (movies, yes - books, no) and I'm apparently fine with a lot of violence.
I'm also fine when the author has the audacity to kill The Dog.
I love mystery readers. Truly. They're fine with numerous dead bodies, torture, maimings, and dismemberment - but the minute the author kills the dog/cat/canary/goldfish hell hath no fury like a reader scorned.
A friend of mine explained it to me like this. She reads for the "escape" and a dead dog isn't "escape." Um, but the dead human body is? I don't get it. Just don't. And if I wanted to read too much into it (which y'all know I do) I would say this is another example of the devaluation of human life. The human life is expendable. The dog's life is not.
Now honestly, I cannot be the only one here who smells something rotten in Denmark. And if you're a reader who likes the dead human but hates the dead dog - please explain it to me. I really would like to understand. Then again, I have known dogs that are loads nicer than most people, so maybe that's all there is to it.