Why are murder mysteries so popular? There's a 3-part "formula" (if you want to call it that) for a genre novel: (1) Someone the reader likes and relates to (2) overcomes increasingly difficult obstacles (3) to reach an important goal. The more important the goal, the stronger the novel. And the most important goal that any of us have is survival. That's why murder mysteries are more gripping than a story titled "Who Stole My TV Set.