To swipe the immortal lines uttered by Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, a great mystery should take "the lid off life and let [you] look at the works." Sure, entertainment is important; if these stories weren't fun, who would read them?
But the corpses, stolen gems and purloined letters that litter the pages of the classic detective tale are just excuses to set the plot in motion; they're not the point. A great crime story also tackles the big mysteries: love, death, the problem of God, the presence of evil in the world. This year's top five mysteries all provide suspenseful plots with satisfying solutions while also affirming that the eternal enigmas can't be cracked.