“It is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed.”
― Thomas Moore
― Thomas Moore
Mystery, thriller, or suspense. Which is it? Sometimes, it might be all three. Especially these days, when literary labels can be as slippery as a steampunk slipstream.
Most of the time, though, if we are sticking with traditional definitions, your book or story will fall more squarely into one area than another.
So here's a quick breakdown:
In a mystery, you don't know who did the crime until the very end. It may focus more on the technical aspects of the crime, or the cerebral challenge of the investigation.
In a thriller, there is typically a lot of action. It may be more about the chase or race to the end.
In a suspense novel, you might know who and when, but perhaps not why or how. You read to the end to find out, and to see if the criminal will be caught. It could be fraught with danger, but not as much action.
What kind of story are you telling? Not sure? Think about what books or authors your story is most similar to. (note publisher or agent for future reference.) Where might they be located in a bookstore?
Where would you look?
That's probably what you are writing.
But most importantly?
Love what you are writing.
Write your story because you have to.
Write it because no one else can.
"Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers."
Below are just a few of of the best books that I've read over the last few years.
Note which category they fit in. Do some of them fit into more than one?
Do you have any wonderful mysteries, suspenses or thrillers to add to my list?
(Or never mind all that, and just read them, if you haven't already. Enjoy!)
What the Dead Know
In Search of the Rose Notes
The Girl on the Train
Hell or High Waters
Luckiest Girl Alive
The Black Hour
Mind of Winter
You Should Have Known
The Book of You
The Weight of Blood
North of Boston
Bad Things Happen
Help for the Haunted
Crime of Privilege
The Drowning House
Rage Against the Dying
A Field of Darkness
Talking to the Dead
The Devil of Nanking
The Devil She Knows
Come In and Cover Me
The Society of S
The Poacher's Son
The Thirteenth Tale
Forty Words for Sorrow
Where the Shadows Lie
“The sweetest smiles hold the darkest secrets...”
“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
"What is the difference between a mystery and a suspense thriller? This is a question that has been known to stump conference panelists. The answer we want to give is similar to the Supreme Court's definition of pornography, "I can't define suspense, but I know it when I see it."