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Mystery is a fiction genre where the nature of an event, usually a murder or other crime, remains mysterious until the end of the story. Often within a closed circle of suspects, each suspect is usually provided with a credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime. The central character is often a
detective A detective is an investigator, usually a member of a law enforcement agency A law enforcement agency (LEA), in North American English, is any government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws. Outside North America No ...

detective
(such as
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, ...

Sherlock Holmes
), who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction from facts presented to the reader. Some mystery books are
non-fiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document or content (media), media content that intends, in good faith, to present only truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfictional content may be presented either Objecti ...
. Mystery fiction can be detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle or suspense element and its logical solution such as a
whodunit A ''whodunit'' or ''whodunnit'' (a colloquial elision of "Who done it?") is a complex, plot-driven variety of a detective fiction, detective story in which the puzzle regarding who committed the crime is the main focus. The reader or viewer ...
. Mystery fiction can be contrasted with
hardboiled Hardboiled (or hard-boiled) fiction is a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or even (as in the case of fiction) l ...
detective stories, which focus on action and gritty realism. Mystery fiction can involve a
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the Scientific law, laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entity, non-physical entities, such as angels, demons, gods, and ghost, spirits. It ...

supernatural
mystery in which the solution does not have to be logical and even in which there is no crime involved. This usage was common in the
pulp magazine Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term "pulp" derives from the cheap wood pulp Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemical ...
s of the 1930s and 1940s, whose titles such as ''Dime Mystery'', ''Thrilling Mystery'' and ''Spicy Mystery'' offered what were then described as complicated to solve and weird stories: supernatural horror in the vein of ''
Grand Guignol ''Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol'' (: "The Theatre of the Great Puppet") – known as the Grand Guignol – was a theatre in the Quartier Pigalle, Pigalle district of Paris (at 20 bis, ). From its opening in 1897 until its closing in 1962, it spec ...
''. That contrasted with parallel titles of the same names which contained conventional hardboiled crime fiction. The first use of "mystery" in that sense was by ''Dime Mystery'', which started out as an ordinary crime fiction magazine but switched to "
weird menace Weird menace is the name given to a genre, subgenre of horror fiction and detective fiction that was popular in the pulp magazines of the 1930s and early 1940s. The weird menace pulps, also known as shudder pulps, generally featured stories in wh ...
" during the later part of 1933.


Beginnings

The genre of mystery novels is a young form of literature that has developed since the early 19th century. The rise of literacy began in the years of the
English Renaissance The English Renaissance was a cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, cap ...
and, as people began to read over time, they became more individualistic in their thinking. As people became more individualistic in their thinking, they developed a respect for human reason and the ability to solve problems. Perhaps a reason that mystery fiction was unheard of before the 19th century was due in part to the lack of true police forces. Before the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
, many of the towns would have constables and a night watchman at best. Naturally, the constable would be aware of every individual in the town, and crimes were either solved quickly or left unsolved entirely. As people began to crowd into cities, police forces became institutionalized, and the need for detectives was realized – thus the mystery novel arose. An early work of modern mystery fiction, '' Das Fräulein von Scuderi'' by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1819), was an influence on ''
The Murders in the Rue Morgue "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in ''Graham's Magazine'' in 1841. It has been described as the first modern detective fiction, detective story; Poe referred to it as one of his "tales of wikt:ratioci ...
'' by
Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe (; born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary criticism, literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and ...

Edgar Allan Poe
(1841) as may have been
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778), known by his ''nom de plume A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a ...

Voltaire
's ''
Zadig ''Zadig; or, The Book of Fate'' (french: Zadig ou la Destinée; 1747) is a novella A novella is a narrative prose fiction whose length is shorter than that of most novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically wr ...
''.
Wilkie Collins William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for '' The Woman in White'' (1859), and for ''The Moonstone ''The Moonstone'' (1868) by Wilkie Collins William Wilkie ...

Wilkie Collins
' novel '' The Woman in White'' was published in 1860, while ''
The Moonstone ''The Moonstone'' (1868) by Wilkie Collins William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for ''The Woman in White (novel), The Woman in White'' (1859), and for ''The Mo ...
'' (1868) is often thought to be his masterpiece. In 1887
Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for ''A Study in Scarlet'', the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Hol ...
introduced
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, ...

Sherlock Holmes
, whose mysteries are said to have been singularly responsible for the huge popularity in this genre. The genre began to expand near the turn of the century with the development of
dime novel (1860) The dime novel is a form of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. popular fiction issued in series of inexpensive paperbound editions. The term ''dime novel'' has been used as a catchall term for several different but related fo ...
s and
pulp magazine Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term "pulp" derives from the cheap wood pulp Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemical ...
s. Books were especially helpful to the genre, with many authors writing in the genre in the 1920s. An important contribution to mystery fiction in the 1920s was the development of the juvenile mystery by
Edward Stratemeyer Edward L. Stratemeyer (October 4, 1862 – May 10, 1930) was an American publisher, writer of children's fiction, and founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate The Stratemeyer Syndicate was a publishing company that produced a number of myste ...
. Stratemeyer originally developed and wrote the
Hardy Boys The Hardy Boys, brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, are fictional character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Play (theatre), play, television series, film, ...
and
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew is a fictional character, a sleuth in an American mystery fiction, mystery series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as the female counterpart to his Hardy Boys series. The character first appeared in 1930. The books are ghostwr ...
mysteries written under the Franklin W. Dixon and
Carolyn Keene Carolyn Keene is the pseudonym of the authors of the Nancy Drew mystery stories and The Dana Girls mystery stories, both produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In addition, the Keene pen name is credited with the Nancy Drew Spin-off (media), spin ...
pseudonyms respectively (and were later written by his daughter,
Harriet Adams Harriet Stratemeyer Adams (December 12, 1892 – March 27, 1982) was an American juvenile book packager, children's novelist, and publisher who was responsible for some 200 books over her literary career. She wrote the plot outlines for many books ...
, and other authors). The 1920s also gave rise to one of the most popular mystery authors of all time,
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around ...

Agatha Christie
, whose works include ''
Murder on the Orient Express ''Murder on the Orient Express'' is a work of detective fiction by England, English writer Agatha Christie featuring the Belgians, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 1 Janu ...
'' (1934), ''
Death on the Nile ''Death on the Nile'' is a work of detective fiction Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an criminal investigation, investigator or a detective—either professional, amateur or retired—investigate ...
'' (1937), and the world's best-selling mystery ''
And Then There Were None ''And Then There Were None'' is a mystery fiction, mystery novel by the English writer Agatha Christie, described by her as the most difficult of her books to write. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 No ...
'' (1939). The massive popularity of
pulp magazine Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term "pulp" derives from the cheap wood pulp Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemical ...
s in the 1930s and 1940s increased interest in mystery fiction. Pulp magazines decreased in popularity in the 1950s with the rise of
television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Gre ...

television
, so much that the numerous titles available then are reduced to two today: ''
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine ''Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine'' (AHMM) is a monthly digest size Digest size is a magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication which is printing, printed in Coated paper, gloss-coated and Paint sheen, matte pap ...
'' and ''
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine ''Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine'' is an American digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an criminal investigatio ...
''—both now published by
Dell Magazines Dell Magazines was a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. ...
, a division of Crosstown Publications. The
detective fiction Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an criminal investigation, investigator or a detective—either professional, amateur or retired—investigates a crime, often murder. The detective genre began around ...
author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or item ...

author
Ellery Queen Ellery Queen is a pseudonym created in 1929 by American crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the invest ...
(
pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name tha ...
of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) is also credited with continuing interest in mystery fiction.


21st century

Interest in mystery fiction continues to this day because of various television shows which have used mystery themes and the many juvenile and adult novels which continue to be published. There is some overlap with "thriller" or "suspense" novels and authors in those genres may consider themselves mystery novelists.
Comic book A comic book, also called comic book, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics a Media (communication), medium used to express ideas with images, often combined with t ...
s and
graphic novel A graphic novel is a book made up of comics a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), t ...

graphic novel
s have carried on the tradition, and
film adaptation A film adaptation is the transfer of a work or story, in whole or in part, to a feature film. Although often considered a type of derivative work In copyright law Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclu ...
s or the even-more-recent web-based detective series, have helped to re-popularize the genre in recent times.


Classifications


Detective fiction

Though the origins of the genre date back to ancient literature and
One Thousand and One Nights ''One Thousand and One Nights'' ( ar, أَلْفُ لَيْلَةٍ وَلَيْلَةٌ, ') is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the ''Arabian Nights'', f ...
, the modern detective story as we know it was invented by
Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe (; born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary criticism, literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and ...

Edgar Allan Poe
in the mid-19th century through his short story,
The Murders in the Rue Morgue "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in ''Graham's Magazine'' in 1841. It has been described as the first modern detective fiction, detective story; Poe referred to it as one of his "tales of wikt:ratioci ...
, which featured arguably the world's first fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin. However, detective fiction was pioneered and popularized only later, in the late 19th century, by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for '' A Study in Scarlet'', the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Hol ...
's
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, ...

Sherlock Holmes
stories, considered milestones in
crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a seriou ...
. The detective story shares some similarities with mystery fiction in that it also has a mystery to be solved,
clue Clue may refer to: People with the name * DJ Clue? (born 1975), mixtape DJ * Arthur Clues (1924–1998), Australian rugby league footballer * Ivan Clues * Tim Cluess Arts, entertainment, and media ''Clue'' entertainment franchise * ''Cluedo'' ...
s,
red herrings A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question.''Oxford English Dictionary''. red herring, n. Third edition, September 2009; online version December 2011. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/160314 ; accesse ...
, some
plot twists A plot twist is a literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. ...
along the way and a detective denouement, but differs on several points. Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories feature no suspects at all, while mystery fiction, in contrast, features a large number of them. As noted, detective stories feature professional and retired detectives, while mystery fiction almost exclusively features amateur detectives. Finally, detective stories focus on the detective and how the crime was solved, while mystery fiction concentrates on the identity of the culprit and how the crime was committed, a distinction that separated
And Then There Were None ''And Then There Were None'' is a mystery fiction, mystery novel by the English writer Agatha Christie, described by her as the most difficult of her books to write. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 No ...
from other works of
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around ...

Agatha Christie
.


True crime

The true crime is a literary genre that recounts real crimes committed by real people, almost half focusing on serial killers. Criticized by many as being insensitive to those personally acquainted with the incidents, it is often categorized as
trash culture The term "trash culture" entered into common use in the West from the '80s to indicate artistic or entertainment expressions considered to be of a low cultural profile but able to stimulate and attract the audiences. It refers to books, movies, TV ...
. Having basis on reality, it shares more similarities with
docufiction Docufiction (or docu-fiction), often confused with docudrama A docudrama (or documentary drama) is a genre of Radio programming, radio and television show, television programming, feature film, and staged theatre, which features Drama (film a ...
than the mystery genre. Unlike fiction of the kind, it doesn't focus much on the identity of the culprit and has no red herrings or clues, but often emphasizes how the culprit was caught and their motivations behind their actions.


Cozy mystery

Cozy mysteries began in the late 20th century as a reinvention of the Golden Age whodunit; these novels generally shy away from violence and suspense and frequently feature female amateur detectives. Modern cozy mysteries are frequently, though not necessarily in either case, humorous and thematic. This genre features minimal violence, sex and social relevance, a solution achieved by intellect or intuition rather than police procedure with order restored in the end, honorable and well bred characters, and a setting in a closed community. The murders are often committed by less violent tools such as poison and the wounds inflicted are rarely if ever used as clues. The writers who innovated and popularized the genre include
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around ...

Agatha Christie
, Dorothy L Sayers and
Elizabeth Daly Elizabeth T. Daly (October 15, 1878 – September 2, 1967) was an American writer of crime fiction, mystery novels whose main character, Henry Gamadge, was a bookish author, bibliophile, and amateur detective. A writer of light verse and prose fo ...
.


Legal thriller

The legal thriller or courtroom novel is also related to detective fiction. The system of justice itself is always a major part of these works, at times almost functioning as one of the characters. In this way, the legal system provides the framework for the legal thriller as much as the system of modern police work does for the police procedural. The legal thriller usually starts its business with the court proceedings following the closure of an investigation, often resulting in a new angle on the investigation, so as to bring about a final outcome different from the one originally devised by the investigators. In the legal thriller, court proceedings play a very active, if not to say decisive part in a case reaching its ultimate solution.
Erle Stanley Gardner Erle Stanley Gardner (July 17, 1889 – March 11, 1970) was an American lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to ...

Erle Stanley Gardner
popularized the courtroom novel in the 20th century with his
Perry Mason Perry Mason is a fictional character, an American criminal defense lawyer who is the main character in works of detective fiction written by Erle Stanley Gardner. Perry Mason features in 82 novels and 4 short stories, all of which involve a clie ...
series. Contemporary authors of legal thrillers include
Michael Connelly Michael Joseph Connelly (born July 21, 1956) is an American author of detective novel Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe ...

Michael Connelly
,
Linda Fairstein Linda Fairstein (born May 5, 1947) is an American author, attorney, and former New York City prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system or the Civil law (legal s ...

Linda Fairstein
,
John Grisham John Ray Grisham Jr. (; born February 8, 1955) is an American novelist and lawyer known for his popular legal thriller The legal thriller is a subgenre of Thriller (genre), thriller and crime fiction in which the major characters are lawyers an ...

John Grisham
,
John Lescroart John Lescroart (; born January 14, 1948) is a New York Times Bestseller, ''New York Times'' bestselling author known for his series of legal and crime thriller (genre), thriller novels featuring the characters Dismas Hardy, Abe Glitsky, and Wyatt H ...
,
Paul Levine Paul J. Levine (born January 9, 1948) is an American author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution ...

Paul Levine
,
Lisa Scottoline Lisa Scottoline (; born July 1, 1955) is an American author of legal thrillers. Life Born in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city i ...
and
Scott Turow Scott Frederick Turow (born April 12, 1949) is an American author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resol ...

Scott Turow
.


Police procedural

Many detective stories have police officers as the main characters. These stories may take a variety of forms, but many authors try to realistically depict the routine activities of a group of police officers who are frequently working on more than one case simultaneously, providing a stark contrast to the detective-as-superhero archetype Holmes brought. Some of these stories are whodunits; in others, the criminal is well known, and it is a case of getting enough evidence. In the 1940s the police procedural evolved as a new style of detective fiction. Unlike the heroes of Christie, Chandler, and Spillane, the police detective was subject to error and was constrained by rules and regulations. As Gary Huasladen says in Places for Dead Bodies, "not all the clients were insatiable bombshells, and invariably there was life outside the job." The detective in the police procedural does the things police officers do to catch a criminal. Writers include
Ed McBain Evan Hunter (October 15, 1926 – July 6, 2005) was an American author and screenwriter who also wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain, used for most of his crime fiction. Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted ...
,
P. D. James Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, (3 August 1920 – 27 November 2014), known professionally as P. D. James, was an English novelist and politician. She rose to fame for her series of detective novels featuring police co ...
and Bartholomew Gill.


Howcatchem

An inverted detective story, also known as a "howcatchem", is a murder mystery fiction structure in which the commission of the crime is shown or described at the beginning, usually including the identity of the perpetrator. The story then describes the detective's attempt to solve the mystery. There may also be subsidiary puzzles, such as why the crime was committed, and they are explained or resolved during the story. This format is the opposite of the more typical "whodunit", where all of the details of the perpetrator of the crime are not revealed until the story's climax.


Hardboiled fiction

Martin Hewitt, created by British author
Arthur Morrison Arthur George Morrison (1 November 18634 December 1945) was an English writer and journalist known for his realistic novels and stories about working-class life in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the U ...

Arthur Morrison
in 1894, is one of the first examples of the modern style of fictional private detective. This character is described as an "'Everyman' detective meant to challenge the detective-as-superman that Holmes represented." By the late 1920s, Al Capone and the Mob were inspiring not only fear, but piquing mainstream curiosity about the American crime underworld. Popular pulp fiction magazines like Black Mask capitalized on this, as authors such as Carrol John Daly published violent stories that focused on the mayhem and injustice surrounding the criminals, not the circumstances behind the crime. Very often, no actual mystery even existed: the books simply revolved around justice being served to those who deserved harsh treatment, which was described in explicit detail." The overall theme these writers portrayed reflected "the changing face of America itself." In the 1930s, the private eye genre was adopted wholeheartedly by American writers. One of the primary contributors to this style was
Dashiell Hammett Samuel Dashiell Hammett (; May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled Hardboiled (or hard-boiled) fiction is a literary genre that shares some of its characters and settings with crime fiction (especially detectiv ...
with his famous private investigator character,
Sam Spade Sam Spade is a fictional character and the protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's '' Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist () is the main character of a story. The protagonist is at the center of the ...
. His style of crime fiction came to be known as "hardboiled", which is described as a genre that "usually deals with criminal activity in a modern urban environment, a world of disconnected signs and anonymous strangers." "Told in stark and sometimes elegant language through the unemotional eyes of new hero-detectives, these stories were an American phenomenon." According to the best-selling author Michael Connelly,"Chandler credited Hammett with taking the mystery out of the drawing-room and putting it out on the street where it belongs." In the late 1930s,
Raymond Chandler Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an American-British novelist and screenwriter. In 1932, at the age of forty-four, Chandler became a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive durin ...
updated the form with his private detective
Philip Marlowe Philip Marlowe () is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an American-British novelist and screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for shor ...
, who brought a more intimate voice to the detective than the more distanced "operative's report" style of Hammett's Continental Op stories. Despite struggling through the task of plotting a story, his cadenced dialogue and cryptic narrations were musical, evoking the dark alleys and tough thugs, rich women and powerful men about whom he wrote. Several feature and television movies have been made about the Philip Marlowe character. James Hadley Chase wrote a few novels with private eyes as the main heroes, including Blonde's Requiem (1945), Lay Her Among the Lilies (1950), and Figure It Out for Yourself (1950). The heroes of these novels are typical private eyes, very similar to or plagiarizing Raymond Chandler's work. Ross Macdonald, pseudonym of Kenneth Millar, updated the form again with his detective
Lew Archer Lew Archer is a fictional character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Play (theatre), play, television series, film, or video game). The character may be e ...
. Archer, like Hammett's fictional heroes, was a camera eye, with hardly any known past. "Turn Archer sideways, and he disappears," one reviewer wrote. Two of Macdonald's strengths were his use of psychology and his beautiful prose, which was full of imagery. Like other 'hardboiled' writers, Macdonald aimed to give an impression of realism in his work through violence, sex and confrontation. The 1966 movie Harper starring Paul Newman was based on the first Lew Archer story The Moving Target (1949). Newman reprised the role in The Drowning Pool in 1976. Michael Collins, pseudonym of Dennis Lynds, is generally considered the author who led the form into the Modern Age. His private investigator, Dan Fortune, was consistently involved in the same sort of David-and-Goliath stories that Hammett, Chandler, and Macdonald wrote, but Collins took a sociological bent, exploring the meaning of his characters' places in society and the impact society had on people. Full of commentary and clipped prose, his books were more intimate than those of his predecessors, dramatizing that crime can happen in one's own living room. The PI novel was a male-dominated field in which female authors seldom found publication until
Marcia Muller Marcia Muller (born September 28, 1944) is an American author of fictional mystery and thriller novels A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a l ...
,
Sara Paretsky Sara Paretsky (born June 8, 1947) is an American author of detective fiction Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an criminal investigation, investigator or a detective—either professional, amateur or r ...
and
Sue Grafton Sue Taylor Grafton (April 24, 1940 – December 28, 2017) was an American author of detective novels. She is best known as the author of the "alphabet series" ('' "A" Is for Alibi'', etc.) featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the f ...

Sue Grafton
were finally published in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each author's detective, also female, was brainy and physical and could hold her own. Their acceptance, and success, caused publishers to seek out other female authors.


Historical mystery

These works are set in a time period considered historical from the author's perspective, and the central plot involves the solving of a mystery or crime (usually murder). Though works combining these genres have existed since at least the early 20th century, many credit
Ellis Peters Edith Mary Pargeter (28 September 1913 – 14 October 1995), also known by her ''nom de plume A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος i ...
's The Cadfael Chronicles (1977–1994) for popularizing what would become known as the historical mystery.


Locked-room mystery

The locked-room mystery is a subgenre of detective fiction. The crime—almost always murder—is committed in circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime and/or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene. The genre was established in the 19th century. Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is considered the first locked-room mystery; since then, other authors have used the scheme.
John Dickson Carr John Dickson Carr (November 30, 1906 – February 27, 1977) was an American author of detective stories, who also published using the pen name, pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn. He lived in England for a number of yea ...
was recognized as a master of the genre and his The Hollow Man was recognized by a panel of 17 mystery authors and reviewers as the best locked-room mystery of all time in 1981. The crime in question typically involves a crime scene with no indication as to how the intruder could have entered or left, i.e., a locked room. Following other conventions of classic detective fiction, the reader is normally presented with the puzzle and all of the clues, and is encouraged to solve the mystery before the solution is revealed in a dramatic climax.


References


External links


Stop, You're Killing Me!
is an
Anthony Award The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery (fiction), mystery writers presented at the Bouchercon, Bouchercon World Mystery Convention since 1986. The awards are named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Wri ...
-winning website that compiles resources for lovers of mystery, crime, thriller, spy, and suspense books.
Mystery Weekly Magazine
presents crime and mystery short stories by some of the world's best established and emerging mystery writers.
German Mystery Blog
with daily news. {{DEFAULTSORT:Mystery Fiction Literary genres