I'm an adult literacy tutor, and my students love your mysteries! I give them the stories to read as homework and hand out the solutions in class.
Post your thoughts, comments, suggestions on using mysteries for adult literacy and we'll get a conversation going.
My philosophy concerning reading material is, basically, that I don't care what my students are reading, even if it the back of a cereal box!! The point is, they are reading!!
My students, although not adults, know that I am a mystery fanatic. This year, however, I became involved with helping the mother of one of my students improve her reading skills (she was at about a 3rd grade level, as was her son). We started out with what my own children called "Fat Books", small, 4x5x1 inch books, written at a very low level. I had a number of these, and her first choice was The Hound of the Baskervilles. It turned out that she, too, was a TV mystery fan and watched Sherlock Holmes. Her greatest desire was to learn how to read well enough to read the Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot mysteries. (We all know where she is on Monday Nights between 9 and 11 PM)
The point, after all this rambling, is that mysteries are fun, teaching thinking skills as well as the fundamentals of reading. People enjoy watching them on TV, as rating show. This fondness for the "mystery" theme can be transferred to the page from the screen. Students of any age learn easier, faster, and better when doing something that is fun for them.
I am an educator who works with adults. My students will love this!!!! By the way, they're inmates who have probably committed similar crimes! This will be an excellent source for reading comprehension and critical thinking. Thanks!!!
Mysteries are super for adults who need to develop a reading habit because they are so well plotted. I have been using "Lucky Day" by Mary Higgins Clark to stimultate reading and critical skills for several years. I don't usually care for Clark's stuff, myself, but Lucky Day, which is about winning the lottery, has been very useful at several reading levels. Coincidentally, I found a short newspaper article about a woman in South America who had a true life similar experience, so I've been able to get a lot of mileage out of it. I use the story to get students to read interactively, to increase their knowledge of story story elements, to employ critical thinking skills, and to participate in focussed class discussions about the text. I give them only parts of the story at a time, which drives them crazy, but enables me to get them to make predictions and anticipate characters' actions without reading ahead. If you are going to teach these reading skills to people who may be nonreaders, you have to use something that they will read. Mysteries do that.