Reader's Advisory: Mystery

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Information about Reader's Advisory: Mystery

Published on December 17, 2008

Author: hcplharriet


Mystery The Game is Afoot. -- Sherlock Holmes

What is a mystery? A secret, a riddle, a puzzle. Essential ingredients are an element of crime mixed with an element of detection. You have to find out the secret, and solve the riddle or puzzle to find the criminal or enemy and crack the case. The hero or heroine appears in a series of adventures.

KEY ELEMENTS IN MYSTERIES Introduction of the protagonist Presentation of the mysterious or criminal situation Suspects, motives, clues are given, including “Red Herrings” Addition of the subplots The denouement or discovery of the killer.

Detectives Hardboiled – Thrilling action, danger, tough, often flawed, characters. Amateur – Becomes involved in the crime by accident or chance, someone with logical mind and common sense. Female P.I. – Different POV, started taking the lead role in the late 1970’s.

Mystery Sub-Genres • Cozy Mystery • Detective Novel • Police Procedural • Historical Mystery • Private Eyes • Humorous Mystery

Cozy Mystery Little violence or action. Focus is on the clues and the plot. Mind game between criminal and the detective. Features common folk with common problems. May use a gimmick, such as a quilting club, gardening, single mom, spinster, cats or dogs.

Popular Cozies Lilian Jackson Braun (Jim Qwilleran, reporter and billionaire) Simon Brett (Melita Pargeter, widow) Agatha Christie (Miss Marple, spinster) Diane Mott Davidson (Goldie Bear, caterer)

Police Procedurals Characters follow standard procedures within a structured institution, such as FBI, Scotland Yard, NYPD. Detective has more resources at his/her disposal. Characters may act independently of their departments or break the rules.

Popular Police Procedurals Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch) Elizabeth George (Inspector Thomas Lynley) Tony Hillerman (Chee and Leaphorn) Carol O’Connell (Kathleen Mallory) Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse)

Historical Mysteries The era or the location may appeal more to the reader than the mystery. Much more research and detail go into a period mystery. May have more sinister plotting and political overtones.

Popular Historical Mysteries Lindsey Davis (Marcus Didius Falco) Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael) Laura Joh Rowland (Ichiro Sano) Anne Perry (Thomas Pitt)

Private Eyes Developed from the pulp magazines of the 1920’s. Continued popularity due to the appeal of each detective. Usually a flawed character or may be one who used to be a cop or a lawyer.

First Rate Private Eyes Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone) Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade) Lawrence Block (Matthew Scudder) Bill Pronzini (Nameless Detective) Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe) Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshowski) Robert B. Parker (Spenser)

Humorous Mysteries Just when life can’t get any more complicated, murder happens. The supporting characters are often sources of the humor. Sometimes the relationships among the players are equal in importance to the mystery plot.

Popular Humorous Mysteries Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum) Selma Eichler (Desiree Sapiro) Carl Hiaasen Sarah Strohmeyer (Bubbles)

Mystery Sites to Die For • Who Dunnit Reviews and synopses of old and new mysteries; author information. • Murder by the Book Local mystery book store information. • Stop You’re Killing Me Authors, characters, new releases, fun newsletter.

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