The Mystery Genre and Why I Love It

This is the one I like to read and write. Adult or kid storiesโ€”its all the same to me.

The mystery is fiction where a crime must be solved.

It started with Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Series and Agatha Christie’s sleuthsโ€”Poirot and Marple.

Some subgenres are: the cozy, whodunit, comic, forensic, police procedural, locked room, historical and private detective. These are but a few of them.

Depending on the sub-genre there usually is a small cast of suspects and each suspect has a creditable motive, means and opportunity to commit the crime. The trick is to figure out who did it and why before the hero does.

One of the things I love about writing mysteries is they can pretty much merge with any other genre. I’ve done fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, romance, contemporary for adult and middle grade and it all works. Think the Harry Potter series for example, most of them ended with a grand reveal of who was behind everything.

Some readers believe it is about the puzzle and the puzzle is a huge part of it. But it also reflects the writer’s need for justice and to right a wrong.

Do you have a favorite mystery?

Gleaned from:

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36 responses to “The Mystery Genre and Why I Love It

  1. I read so many mysteries I could never pick a favorite. I do like mine deep, convoluted and the darker the better.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. I enjoy reading mysteries, more of the darker stuff than cozies, along with suspense. I might try my hand at writing them someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I use to read a lot of J A Janice-set in Arizona-like the female lead best, and Dick Francis-around horses, but like ones about cats too and The Puzzle Lady mysteries which are cozies, so are the cats but the other two are not categorized as cozy.

    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  4. Oh I forgot a big one, that is mystery but also gothic romance-Victoria Holt read everything she wrote when I was in Junior High. I also read a lot of Agatha Christie, and I know there are more. Can’t think.

  5. Recently I couldn’t read mysteries, maybe because I can’t find what I like. In many mysteries my friends read, a hero becomes threatened as soon as he starts the investigation. The story turns into a race: either he solves the mystery fast, or the villain will get him. I don’t like that. I want an intelligent mystery, a puzzle, where the hero is safely collecting evidence, contemplating clues, and finding the culprit without ever falling into danger. But except for some Golden Age oldies and Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series, I can’t find such stories. Any suggestions?

    • I really loved Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series and my all time favorite is Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody + Vicky Bliss. Very strong characters without much violence. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I enjoy a good mystery, whether it’s a cozy, children’s book, or something dark and deadly. I even like it when the beginning is actually the end and you go back to see where it began and why.

    • I liked Columbo when you saw the murderer doing his thing and then inch by inch Columbo caught him. A huge game of cat and mouse. Seeing all the pieces fall into place was so much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Growing up, I loved Sidney Sheldon. I think I’ve read all his books. I can remember that in 1969 Sheldon wrote his first novel, The Naked Face, which earned him a nomination for the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America in the category of Best First Novel.

  8. I think the “puzzle” part is why many of us like true crime. I love real-life missing persons cases and unsolved murders because there’s an element of “putting the pieces of the puzzle together.” Only problem is, in real life, the police withhold some of those puzzle pieces so the public couldn’t figure it out even if we would otherwise be able to. But I guess if the trained, professional detectives couldn’t figure it out, why would we be able to?

    • One thing I’ve noticed is they (the police) zero in on one person and that’s it. I get why. If they look in too many places they may not be able to prosecute because the other suspects can be used as ‘possible doubt’.

      I’d say if you have an open mind and most of the pieces fit (assuming you’ve got all the suspects), your guess is as good as any.

  9. I’m not a mystery reader, but I am reading one right now–A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, her first in her Lady Sherlock series. But I think I’d to read more. I think I can learn more about plotting from reading them, because that plotting must be so detailed and careful.

  10. I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan. My fandom of the series is behind my hankering for mysteries featuring heroines as amateur detectives. My latest favorite mystery is by Denise Grover Swank, the Rose Gardner mysteries.
    Yet to write a mystery but have a paranormal tarot mystery filed away. And just last week a story idea, a mystery, about a Smithsonian security guard.

  11. I love mysteries as well. You make a really great point about how they can be combined with other genres which makes them even more fun to read.

  12. I like mystery merged with other genres, too. My novel (coming out in September) is both fantasy and mystery. I haven’t read a lot of straight mystery apart from books like JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, which I love. Have you come across any similar series in your own reading? I really enjoy the pace and description and characterisation of those books.

    • Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series has surprised me more than once. But be warned, her books are lengthy. And wonderfully surprising–much like JK’s stories. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Mystery is fun. I haven’t read mysteries in a long time, but I need to.

  14. I do love mysteries in books. Even if it isn’t specifically the mystery genre, I like the game of trying to figure out who did the crime.

  15. My favourite mysteries right now are Joanne Fluke’s “Murder She Baked” series. They’re lighter than fluff, cotton candy for the brain, but they make me happy. Mostly.

  16. That sound YT is amazing. 8 hours of cave sounds! It might be my new white noise for writing.

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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