Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mysteries, Mysteries Everywhere by Vivian Zabel

Mysteries come in all shapes, sizes, level of violence, and degree of suspense. Mysteries have had so manly titles or labels attached over the years. Many people have tried to classify the genre -- basically the mystery or crime story.

Essentially, detective fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, mysteries all have been used to describe, or try to describe the genre.

Let's look at some the sub-genres for mysteries (remember that all "experts" don't always agree on the classifications, but this give us an idea):

Straight Mysteries are character driven. Action happens to center around a crime.

Puzzle Mysteries or the classic detective involves a problem and the writer "toys" with reader, matching wits with clever detectives.

Novel of Pursuit often involves espionage. The protagonist getting out of a situation is the foundation of the writing. Action, terror, often technology, methods of pursuit, as well as entrapment or capture are more important than internal motivation and psychology of characters - plot driven, rather than character-driven. This sub-genre has several sub-genres:
Spy Novel
Man-on-the-Run Mystery
Metaphysical Mystery - Gothic or occult in nature
Doomsday Mystery - threat is global

Hard-boiled Mysteries are adventure stories focused on the exploits of the protagonist, such as a private detective of nearly super-hero status.

Whodunit Mysteries are character-driven mysteries where the solution of the crime comes as a surprise to the reader, but the detectives or more featured more than the deductive process.
Sub-genres of this mystery include the following:
Caper Mystery - reader is knows the perpetrator and all details of crime.
Cozy Mystery - an amateur detective solves a mystery, usually without graphic violence.
Romantic Suspense Mystery
Period Mystery - takes place in the past
Western Mystery - has a western setting
Police Procedural Mystery
Private Eye Mystery
Camp Mystery - of any sub-genre presenting in a comical way.

Finally we have Thrillers, characterized by fast pace, frequent action, and resourceful heroes. Suspense, red herrings, and cliffhangers are found often. Sub-genres include many variations of the thriller concept.

I hope you enjoyed our foray into types of mysteries.

Vivian Zabel
Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap
4RV Publishing
Midnight Hours
Prairie Dog Cowboy


Morgan Mandel said...

No wonder people love mysteries so much. There's just about one for everyone.

Morgan Mandel

Mark Troy said...

The cutting edge is often in the interstices between the sub-genres.

Vivian Zabel said...

I enjoy most of the genres and sub-genres except the horror stuff or anything too graphic.