ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Police are puzzled by a rash of 14 homicides in the 10 days since Thanksgiving in the Twin Cities area, considered one of the safest metropolitan areas in the country.

''It's very strange,'' said Sgt. Marvin Rorvick of the Minneapolis homicide unit, which is investigating seven deaths in two arson fires Nov. 26 and 27. ''We go months without any murders, and all of a sudden there's a burst. It's hard to understand why.''

Fifty-six homicides have been recorded in Minneapolis this year, already breaking the record of 48 in 1975 and 1986. In 1987, 46 homicides were recorded.

In St. Paul, two stabbings and two stranglings in the past week boosted to 18 the number of homicides in St. Paul in 1988, six more than all of last year, but fewer than the record of 20 in 1985, said police spokesman Paul Adelmann.

Three other homicides in the latest rash occurred in Bloomington and Hopkins.

''I don't have an explanation for it,'' said Lt. Russell Bovee, head of the St. Paul homicide division. ''But we don't need anymore. The recent string of murders has put a tremendous strain on our manpower. I've got people in the street with very little sleep.''

''I think what you have is coincidence,'' said Peter Parilla, a sociologist at the College of St. Thomas with expertise in criminology. ''These are isolated incidents. As a general rule, I wouldn't say there's cause for concern.''

According to FBI figures for 1986, Minnesota's major crime rate per 100,000 people was 2.5, compared with 10.7 for New York, 11.3 for Michigan and California, and 11.7 for Florida.

The underlying pattern of violence in society is the only link between the murders, said Kathleen Alme, director of the Crime Victim Center in Minneapolis. ''Many people feel the need to solve problems that way,'' she said.