Wednesday, April 29, 2009


How many of us read both mysteries and thrillers with equal enjoyment? What’s the difference? Well, according to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by "the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace."

From a mystery, in books, is defined as “mysterious, unresolved and unexplainable circumstances with which the hero or heroine comes in contact. This can be anything from the occult realms, strange disappearances, unexplainable sudden affluence or sudden monetary loss, psychological distortions, property destroyed or desecrated without known reason, suicide when no suicide seemed feasible, and of course, murder."

Those may, at first, seem very disparate, but any of the circumstances in a mystery can result in a thriller’s “sudden rush of emotions” and, while some cozy mysteries may not proceed at a “constant, breakneck pace,” most mysteries have a sense of apprehension and suspense. Without it, why would we worry about who dunnit?
Who are your favourite mystery and thriller writers – and who would you consider a crossover author?


Christiane France - Author said...

Favorite mystery writers: Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Minette Walters, Susan Hill, Robert Goddard, Phil Rickman, P.D. James, who can all add a dash of something extra when it's needed.


April said...

I love both thriller and mystery genres. I had always wondered the difference between the two, they always seemed so similar, so this is a great post. My favorite Thriller writer is Harlan Coben - his are just non-stop action books that I can't put down until the end!

Morgan Mandel said...

I love thrillers and suspense books, but am not as keen on mysteries where I have to really use my mind to figure things out. Too much like work.

Morgan Mandel