This week: By Any Other NameEdited by: eyestar~Go Power Raiders.
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Hiya Readers! I am happy to be a guest editor for this edition. I have yet again delved into this genre and found it to be mysterious as there are so many variations in categorizing the MYSTERY! I even found MYSTERY poems, which is not a surprise as Edgar Allen Poe was a master at it! I am not sure how they catagorize as some aspects of each are similar. It was fun looking around.
"I've been as bad an influence on American literature
as anyone I can think of."
- Dashiell Hammett, PI Mystery writer
"[Dashiell Hammett’s] The Glass Key is better than
anything Hemingway ever wrote."
- Rex Stout
detective Noir lines:
“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
“In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights. In noir, they fall from the curb.”
― Dennis Lehane
“So that's the way you scientific detectives work. My god! for a fat, middle-aged, hard-boiled, pig-headed guy, you've got the vaguest way of doing things I ever heard of.”
― Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
Let's have a quick peek at the 13 subtypes that boggled my mind. I am sure there are crossovers everywhere and not sure you would find them shelved in such away!
One general definition I found was that the basic Mystery appears to have an investigation of Who Dun it while Crime Fiction centers on a wider scope like the effect of the violence/crime on the community.
Stories take place in a small area setting like a village. Think Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton and even earlier Anna Katherine Green! The solution is found in emotional and logical reasoning.
These tales usually involve an amateur sleuth, who may have a personal reason for seeking the criminal. eg. the police failed or misrecognized as not a crime. The characters know each other and there are no serial killers, or explicit sex, violence, or gore. Think of Anne Perry or Aaron Elkin and Barbara Neely. These tales may also have a professional sleuth ( an amateur acting in a professional capacity) and have unique setting as in Dick Francis with his horse racing world.
3. Hardboiled Private Investigator:
These mysteries involve a loner working for justice in a corrupt world. The hero has a strict code of justice. I think of the Old West! Works of the 1930's and 40's exemplify this form well. Dashiel Hammett set the stamp for this type as an ex pinkerton agent and inspired writers like Raymond Chandler. The first ones appeared in 1923 with Daly's All in the Game. The first with a woman PI was in 1957 in Gloria and Forest Finkling's Honey West. Sue Grafton is known for this type now.
Known for its characteristic pessimistic view of the world, this type was popular in the 1930's with works like (i}Double Indemnity by James McCain. The tone is moody, gritty and bleak.
5. Golden Age:
In a era from the late 19th c to the end of WW2, mystery types with both amateur and professional sleuths as well as having rules of fair play with the reader were developing. Raymond Chandler's (i}Simple Art of MUrder exemplifies this. Works often included the locked room mystery.
It goes without saying as we all recognize James Bond! These mysteries have a focus on the undercurrents between nations and settings are expansive.
7. Police Procedural:
Ed McBain made this subgenre popular. Mysteries here follow cops on investigations and feature the ways and means of police processes. Often law enforcement is seen as a team effort and often the inner politics in revealed as in 8th Precinct by McBain. His work influenced shows like Hill Street Blues.
All mysteries have it yet the subgenre can involve an innnocent naivre main character who confronts evil as in Daphne DuMaurier's stories. The protagonist is often being pursued and the story revolves around how they will stay alive. Another feature is that often you are on the edge of your seat waiting to see what comes next. Mary Higgins Clark and Ruth Rendell are more recent authors of the style.
As part of the Mixed type: Romance Suspense: authors like Mary Stewart add romantic elements.
These mysteries have plots easy to summarize, direct, swift action by characters and have high stakes involved in the game. Michael Creighton's (i}Adromeda Strain and Jurassic Park are popular ones. The form dates to E. Phillip Oppeinheim in 1920. So many thrillers our there today and I find the suspense and thriller often hard to define. A look on line often has same titles under both.
Doctors and lawyers make awesome protagonists. These tales are often created by those with expert knowledge of the subjects as many details are needed for realism. They could make good killers too I think! Coma by Deborah Bloom and The Adromeda Strain are two amazing medical thrillers.
Mystery genre are mixed with other genres. A move to the future is exempified by Isaac Asimov's Robot where we follow a futuristic police detective.
Historical Mystery fits in here and may even have its own category.
The story line mysteries are based in the past or move to the past to solve the crime.
12: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy:
A newer type emerging that reflects back to the old Gothic tales. These mysteries have other wordly elements. For example, the detective in Lee Killough's books investigates vampires.
13. The Caper:
Mysteries with a comical element like a bungling criminal who can't win or funny repartee between the characters!
Think Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard.
Even more of a break down in defining may be found here: Technological! LOL And Horror thrillers too.
Whew! Now you know the mystery within the mystery genre...you may have to dig to find out where your favourite thriller belongs! I am sure by any name, a mystery is a fine way to get lost for a while, try out your sleuthing skills and be held captive by suspense.
At WDC you can easily find mystery...er... under our categories:
How would you decide which category to use for your MYSTERY work?
Lucky we can add three to our posting.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks to these sources:
Mysteries of the WDC!
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Your ideas and comments are welcome! Share your favourite subgenre or how you classify your writings in the Mystery Realm.
Thanks for your comments on " Newsletter (Spare)"
"I must agree with you—about 92.5%. Not all your questions about a mystery is met in all mystery stories. Some of your requirements are not found in some mysteries, yet they are still good mysteries. So, I am in agreement with you. It's just that not all mysteries will meet your expectations yet still be good mysteries.
Welcome as a guest editor!"
Thanks for your comment! You are so right on! Not all will apply for sure and I just hope there are some good ideas for folks to use as guides.
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