Genre Confusion ~ in mystery fiction and crime fiction

A crime scene

Not Who ‘dun it, but what is it?

Mystery Fiction and Crime Fiction are often lumped together as if they are part of one fiction genre. I believe they are their own separate genres (for clarity sake). Further complicating things, today’s mystery and crime fiction works overlap and often slip-and-slide into each other. Then within the genres a novel may fit into more than one category so that determining what genre and/or category the novel falls into is often subjective. My novels have been called detective stories, murder mysteries, and cozy thrillers. Of course, the reader is always right. However, I’d like to shed some light on what we find in the world of today’s mystery and crime fiction novels. BTW, according to the list below, most of my novels fall into the mystery fiction genre and the soft-boiled detective story category. ~~ Below, I’m looking at novels written in English, mostly in American English.

Mystery Fiction

The Murder Mystery Novel:  This is a classic whodunit, a puzzle. The reader follows the clues as the sleuth discovers them which leads to who committed the crime. It’s usually a murder but can be arson, a bombing, kidnap, cyber crime, theft, embezzlement, stock manipulation and fraud, and a host of others. The author will create red-herrings (false clues), making it difficult for the sleuth and the reader to determine who the criminal is. In the end , the sleuth will catch the bad guy, and hopefully the reader will be surprised.

Detective Stories (hard boiled/noir):  Featuring a professional law enforcement officer (police detective, military police, forest ranger, canine detective and his/her dog, District Attorney’s investigator, a state investigator or state trooper, a private detective, military police, cyber crime detectives, and the like. They are often fighting their own demons such as alcoholism/drug addiction, an abusive past, etc. The murder and perhaps also other crimes happen in unsavory or bleak settings with rough and coarse or disreputable secondary and tertiary characters. Quite often there is coarse or vulgar language. The violence is most often graphically described.

Detective Stories (soft boiled):  These feature professional detectives, but are lighter in tone. There will be more psychology and less action, sometimes humor. The main character(s) will most likely have personal issues but these difficulties will be disclosed in a less gritty manner. Secondary and tertiary characters will be a mix of upstanding and disreputable. There will be less explicit or no explicit language and less violence.

Procedurals: The main character is a professional detective (as described above) or a medical examiner, a forensic behavioral psychologist (a profiler), a forensic scientist (pathologist), and so forth. They stress realistic police operations and/or realistic science where the investigator is constrained by law and department regulations. Departmental politics, even town/city politics will have some bearing.

The Cozy:  This style has traditionally featured well bred characters and a closed community setting. However, today’s cozy could just as easily have a bartender or trailer park owner as its main character instead of a leader in the community. Often there are charming or eccentric characters. The modern cozy doesn’t have to stay in a closed community, but could cross state lines as well as crossing national boundaries. The crime entails minimal violence, may have happened before the story began or occurred off-scene. It may be described, but not graphically.

The Caper:  This is a crime story with a high degree of comedy. In many ways, this is a cousin to the cozy. It may feature an incompetent amateur sleuth who solves the crime by accident (Pink Panther). Or the investigator is competent but a series of zany and outlandish occurrences continually happen to thwart him/her. Or she/he has contrary and/or eccentric family members, or business partners, or whatever that mess things up in a humorous manner. Still, he/she manages to catch the criminal.

MIXED-CATEGORY: Romantic Suspense: Romantic suspense most often falls under the mystery fiction genre as it’s usually on the soft-boiled side and has a happy romantic ending. However, we are seeing more and more gritty romantic suspense novels where the twisted mind of the villain is openly on display. Romantic Suspense is actually a combination of a genre (romance) and a category (suspense which falls under the crime fiction genre). Historical Romantic Suspense: As above, but the story is set in the past. Supernatural/Paranormal Mysteries: This is also a mix of a genre (mystery) and a category (paranormal which falls into the speculative fiction genre). Fantasy Mysteries (a mix of two categories, mystery and then fantasy which falls into speculative fiction).

MYSTERY FICTION SUB-CATEGORIES: heists (often told from the criminal’s point-of-view), historical murder mysteries, legal mysteries, medical mysteries, pet detectives (most often cats in a cozy novel or series, but can be a police dog or bomb or drug sniffing dog in a police procedural, or another animal), equine mysteries. More that are usually cozies – cooking/food mysteries, knitting/sewing mysteries, tea/coffee mysteries, granny mysteries, mommy mysteries, bridal mysteries, and many more. Location based: there are a slew of Florida based mysteries, British Isles mysteries (set in the British Isles, though not necessarily written by a citizen of the UK), Cape Cod mysteries, New Orleans and Mississippi River mysteries, Caribbean Island mysteries, and many more.

Crime Fiction

The Suspense Novel:  This type of story is designed to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride and can be quite psychological. There is a murderer or some other type of heinous criminal, and the main character’s job is to catch him/her. The depravity of the criminal’s mind is often displayed. This can be done quite graphically, bringing the story into a noir designation. The protagonist might not be in law enforcement, or could be. There is always a high level of danger either to the main character, his/her loved ones, community, or even her/his nation. The main character may not know what motivates the criminal and must find out. Why, is a big question. Often, at some point, the tables turn and the highly intelligent criminal pursues the main character. How can the protagonist stay alive is the other big question.

The Thriller: There is a threat to the social order, an affront to societal norms and decency. This category most often lands on the noir side and can get very dark before the light comes. The criminal or crime is introduced right up front in most cases, although the motive may not yet be known. The story may have a forensic behavioral analyst (profiler) either as a main or secondary character. There will be tension from the outset and the threat level will increase from there. The protagonist or her/his loved ones will be threatened by a highly intelligent criminal.

Thriller Sub-Categories: the psychological thriller, the spy/espionage thriller. In the legal and medical thriller, while investigating the crime against the community or nation, the lawyer or doctor (or their loved ones) will personally be threatened by the criminal outside of the legal or medical settings.

An Over-Arching Subcategory: Multi-Cultural and Diverse Subcategory. Over-arching because it can be found in both the Mystery and Crime Fiction genres, and in any of the categories and sub-categories.  These novels provide mystery and suspense while giving readers a peek into new ethnic or racial communities and cultures. Another Distinct Subcategory: The Racial/Ethnic Subcategory. This is written, most often, by a member of a racial or ethnic group for the enjoyment of members of that same group. Still another, Over-Arching Subcategory: Christian and clean Mystery and/or Crime Fiction. These novels can be found in either genre and any practically any subcategory but not all. There will be no on-page sex, no profanity, and limited violence and no glorification of these. The Young Adult and New Adult Subcategory: These are also mixes of genres (YA and NA) and the various mystery and crime fiction categories. The extremely dark categories would not be appropriate for this subcategory. Middle-Grade Mystery is a combination of mystery (a category) and (middle-grade which is a genre). These novels must be appropriate for pre-teens and under (Nancy Drew, Lady Grace Cavendish).

 

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley ~ tackling my ‘to read list’

Shadows of the Past

Intense feelings of failure pervaded profiler Taylor Martin’s life. She couldn’t prevent a young man from murdering his stepfather. Her former fiance left her a ‘dear Jane’ letter. In her present case, she failed professionally, and the local sheriff was badly injured.

The author constructed strong main characters in Taylor Martin and best selling mystery writer Nick Sinclair. The development of these characters’ inner vulnerabilities as well as the tension between them was deftly done. There is tremendous suspense as the plot thickens and it becomes obvious the stalker/killer in the case she’s come to Memphis to solve is someone Taylor knew…and the reader knows him too…but who?

However, there’s another case to solve. Taylor’s father has been missing for over twenty years. Her family strongly prefers she not dredge up old wounds, but Taylor has nightmares involving his disappearance and she wants answers.

The novel delves into faith in God and questions people have, such as does God care? However, it’s never preachy. Some of the characters are Christian, some are seekers, many are neither. Just like in real life. I recommend this novel for ages 17 to 117.

Double Barrel Mysteries by Barbara Ellen Brink ~ an intriguing series

I was intrigued by the intelligence of the DOUBLE BARREL MYSTERIES so I asked its author, Barbara Ellen Brink to share with my readers how this well-constructed series came about and evolved. This is one that has everything I love in mysteries suspense, plenty of twists and turns, laughs, and quirky characters.

Let’s turn it over to Barbara…

Blake and Shelby Gunner ARE Double Barrel Investigations

My husband and I took a road trip along Lake Superior to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula about three years back. It was a beautiful fall weekend and the changing colors were amazing. Soon after, I woke from a dream and started writing Double Barrel Mysteries. Rather than an actual storyline, my dream consisted of characters and setting.

The Double Barrel team of Blake and Shelby Gunner was in my head as clear as bold font. Blake is a cop. Shelby’s an actress who speaks Shakespeare as a second language. Together they make the perfect team. He’s got the experience of a seasoned detective and she can act like one.

Now all I needed was a murder for them to solve.

Roadkill

 

 

In ROADKILL, the Gunners consider moving from Minneapolis to the safe, small-town environment of Blake’s hometown. They take a road trip to Port Scuttlebutt in order to check out an old bed & breakfast on the market, and soon get pulled into the cold case of an unsolved hit-and-run. Surprisingly, Port Scuttlebutt isn’t as innocent as it appears on the surface. Their investigation stirs up danger as easily as a Lake Superior storm churns up waves.

I always begin one of my Double Barrel Mysteries by writing the murder scene. Once I’ve killed off someone, I start making up the story about how it came to be. Funny thing is, I don’t usually know who the killer is until at least the middle. In fact, sometimes it’s almost the end of the book before I know whodunit. If the author is surprised, I’m pretty sure the reader will be too.

Much Ado About Murder

 

In MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER, Blake and Shelby have just begun renovating the old boathouse into offices for Double Barrel Investigations when they get sidetracked with a case of murder. Someone buried Pete’s ex-wife under his woodpile, making Pete look as guilty as a cocker spaniel surrounded by chicken feathers. Being the talk of the town after solving their last case, Blake and Shelby feel the pressure to find the killer and keep their newly hired construction foreman out of jail. After all, winter is coming on and the doors and windows have yet to be installed.

 

Midsummer Madness

The third book in the Double Barrel Mysteries was released this past weekend. In MIDSUMMER MADNESS, Blake and Shelby have a surprise announcement that everyone seems to know before they tell them. Shelby is working to get the new Port Playhouse ready for its grand opening when a local business owner asks the Gunners to look for his stolen fishing boat. A stranger’s body turns up in the Lake near the Drunken Sailor Bed & Breakfast and a missing boat quickly morphs into a case of murder. With new friends under suspicion and a killer still unidentified, the Gunners have to work quickly to solve the case before someone else is pulled into the madness.

Barbara’s Bio:

Barbara Ellen Brink

Barbara Ellen Brink is a multi-published author, wife of one long-suffering husband, mother to two adult children, walker to one very spoiled mutt, lover of funny baby-goat videos, and a black licorice connoisseur. She grew up on a small fruit farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to take her motorcycle for a spin, hang out with friends, or catch up on the latest movies.

She is the author of the best-selling Fredrickson Winery Novels; young adult series, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy; inspirational suspense series, Second Chances; and the Double Barrel Mysteries. Her speculative/thriller, Split Sense, won the 2012 Grace Award, and Much Ado About Murder won this year’s Grace Award in mystery/suspense/thriller.

handgun

Purchase Links:

ROADKILL

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VN0A3QC

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/roadkill-barbara-e-brink/1121462059;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154967577

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/roadkill/id1311166714?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/roadkill-21

 

MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FN1YIJ4

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/much-ado-about-murder-barbara-e-brink/1123747711;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154996850

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/much-ado-about-murder/id1311168692?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/much-ado-about-murder-4

 

MIDSUMMER MADNESS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07798B882

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midsummer-madness-barbara-ellen-brink/1127329433;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154990186

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/midsummer-madness/id1311176460?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/midsummer-madness-9

 

The Nike N. Chillemi Blog ~ has a new look

palm trees

Lighter, brighter, a dash of humor…new photos in the side-bar.

Of course I’m still blogging about murder mysteries, detective stories, romantic suspense, thrillers, cozies, and espionage stories, as well as policing, first responders, and the military. I find myself increasingly linking crime fiction and policing to the human psyche, culture, and societal institutions. I hope to offer a “merry” view of my subject matter — merry in a biblical sense. This would be not only a sense of humor, though I love a lighter touch where appropriate, but also healing and wholeness.

Since I’ve moved from the industrial northeast to Florida, I’ll be incorporating a more breezy, beachy, tropical feel.

Proverbs 7:22 [KJV] ~ A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

 

How To Commit The Perfect Muder ~ on paper

Kristin Durfee
Kristin Durfee

Florida romantic suspense author and my good friend Lynn Rix brought me to the Ponte Vedra Beach Library this morning to hear a lecture designed for mystery writers.

Kristin Durfee [firearms expert, giver of expert court testimony, author] spoke on “How to Commit the Perfect Murder”. She gave this caveat several time, “for literary purposes only.” To which the audience of local Florida writers laughed.

We learned about cartridges, magazines (not the kind you read), calibers, gauges, jackets (not the kind you wear), and full metal jackets. We also learned that $75K will buy you a cheap CSI microscope. Some go for half to three-quarters of a million dollars.

We got all kinds of technical tips for writing murder mysteries with accurate details about the use of firearms. The big tip of the day I got was to do accurate research. Don’t go to some guy who’s in PJs writing about firearms. Google the manufacturers’ website. Go to Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, etc.

Kristin told us about a few weird or strange cases that would be called “unbelievable” by fiction book critics if written in a story, but which were actual criminal cases in life. She said, “Anything you can think up has already probably happened.”

You can follow Kristin on Twitter: @KristinDurfee

 

Moi, Ponte Vedra Beach Lib
Moi @ Ponte Vedra Beach Library

 

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Readers’ Favorite Review of HARMFUL INTENT ~ 5 Stars

harmful-intent-300-p

 

Readers’ Favorite Review gave HARMFUL INTENT a glowing 5 Star review. Here are a few notable excerpts from the review below:

  • kept me captivated from the beginning
  • The plot was amazing and the story line’s twists and turns kept me guessing until the end.
  • This is truly a murder mystery that I recommend to those who love a good, cozy mystery and to those who love sleuthing mysteries. It was awesome!
Star Star Star Star Star

Harmful Intent
The Veronica
by Nike N. Chillemi
Fiction – Mystery – Murder
220 Pages
Reviewed on 09/12/2016

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

Harmful Intent by Nike N. Chillemi is a murder mystery filled with lies, betrayal and intrigue. It is set against the arid backdrop of a small town in Texas, a place where guns and hospitality go hand in hand. Veronica Ingels, P.I. finds evidence that Mark, her husband of a year, is cheating on her. To have time to think, she calls her boss and informs him of her dilemma. Being a good friend, he gives her personal time off to deal with the situation. Veronica leaves New York and flies to Texas to stay with her best friend, Cassidy. When she arrives at Cassidy’s Bridal Shop to announce her arrival, she finds Cassidy in Mark’s cheating arms. In shock and anger, she runs out of the shop and drives around, lost on the back roads in rural Texas. Unsure of what to do next, she calls her boss and gives him an update. He sends her to an old friend of his who has a temporary job and a room for her, while she works out what she is going to do. Unfortunately, things only get worse for Veronica…

Harmful Intent by Nike N. Chillemi is an exciting murder mystery that kept me captivated from the beginning. The story is written as reports from Veronica’s and Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes’s (a former Army Ranger) points of view. At first, it was a little confusing, but as I got accustomed to their reports, I got into the story and forgot its unusual portrayal. The plot was amazing and the story line’s twists and turns kept me guessing until the end. Texas was a wonderful choice for the unfolding of the plot. With their easy going attitude toward guns and ‘the door is always open’ way of thinking, I felt like I was at home! The characters were so real that I was able to connect with them and heartily loved the “good guys” and vehemently hated the “bad guys”! This is truly a murder mystery that I recommend to those who love a good, cozy mystery and to those who love sleuthing mysteries. It was awesome!

Review Link

Amazon Purchase Link