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).

 

The Bride Escape by Dalyn Woods ~ a review

The Bride Escape

Twists & Turns Ending in Thanksgiving Dinner

It didn’t seem as if Charlotte “Charlie” Dutton, now Lyons, had much to be thankful for. Her first husband committed suicide. Here she was in a limo, wearing a wedding gown with blood on it, and she had a bloody knife with her. It obviously was her wedding day. To make matters worse, Charlie was rapidly coming to the conclusion that she’d just killed her new husband, but she wasn’t sure. She had amnesia and remembered not a single thing of her former life in Folkston, Georgia.

This is a Christian Romantic Suspense with many twists and turns the reader will enjoy. The limo is parked in front of Liam MacBain’s cabin at the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. The man claims to be Charlie’s childhood friend. The next day the limo is gone. Then the driver turns up burned to death in the limo’s trunk. Charlie is arrested for the murder of her husband and the limo driver. She’s poisoned while in the jail. And the plot twists keep on coming at a rapid pace.

The main characters are well drawn and likeable. Charlie is impulsive, while Liam is protective and a ‘by the book’ kind of guy. Charlie slowly begins to rely on Liam, but finds her back is continually up against the wall since the sheriff also remembers her from childhood. He’s carried a major grudge against her all these years and would love to pin the murders on her.

This is a ‘clean reads’ novel for lovers of inspirational romantic suspense who like a mystery story that keeps them guessing.

Purchase The Bride Escape on Amazon

ribbon-green

AOM Cover From Thanksgiving thru New Year’s, murder, intrigue, covert ops, family upheaval, #widow, loyalty. #Florida #Caracas. ACTS OF MALICE #inspy #ChristFic #cleanreads  Purchase on Amazon

Forever Under Blue Skies by Valerie Massey Goree ~ clean read

Forever Under Blue Skies

Christian Romantic Suspense

It’s my pleasure to host a promo for FOREVER UNDER THE BLUE SKIES by Valerie Missy Goree. Here’s to enjoyable mystery reading.

The story in a nutshell:

Travel to Australia to solve a family mystery? Sure, Marlow could do that. But she didn’t take into consideration the vast outback, nor the owner of the sheep station. Widower, Jake Barclay, is everything her late husband was not—honorable, considerate, a pure gentleman. She came prepared with sunscreen, but hadn’t built a high enough screen around her heart. Jake was dubious about Marlow’s reason for visiting his station and thwarts her plan at every turn. Until he sees how she interacts with his vulnerable, young daughter. If they solve the coded message, can Marlow return to Texas, or will Jake offer her a forever home in the outback?

What the author would like readers to take away:

Second chances are possible. In life, in love, and in faith. After her husband and daughter died, Marlow discovered inner strength she never knew she possessed. Browbeaten by Steven for years, she doubted she could do anything on her own, let alone travel to the other side of the world to fulfill his dying demand. Since her marriage had been anything but happy, why would she even consider another shot at romance? But she didn’t take into account how her heart would react to someone the complete opposite of Steven. After her heart softened, Marlow discovered that her soul was also released from the barrier she’d placed around it. God is the ultimate giver of second chances.

Buy FOREVER UNDER BLUE SKIES Amazon ebook

Buy FOREVER UNDER BLUE SKIES Amazon paperback

Valerie Goree

Valerie’s bio:

American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree resides with her husband on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. After serving as missionaries in her home country of Zimbabwe and raising two children, Glenn and Valerie moved to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired in Washington, Valerie spends her time writing, and spoiling her grandchildren. Novels include: DECEIVE ME ONCE, COLORS OF DECEIT, The Stolen Lives Trilogy: WEEP IN THE NIGHT, DAY OF RECKONING, and JUSTICE AT DAWN,, to be released soon. Valerie loves to hear from her readers. Check Valerie’s website to learn more about her books: www.valeriegoreeauthor.com

ribbon blueCD Cover Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department’s forensics psychologist, a man she’s just started to trust.  Purchase on Amazon

ALIAS RAVEN BLACK by Barbara E. Brink ~ a review

Alias Raven Blac,

Christian Mystery, Romantic Suspense, International Crime and Intrigue

 

A fun, fast and furious journey with Brenna Blackman (alias Raven Black). The FBI has finally caught up with the erstwhile Raven Black. So has her father who has secrets of his own. He dad, hired a young, handsome private detective to find Brenna. Needless to say, Thomas falls in love with her.

Using her Raven Black crimes against her, FBI agents blackmail Brenna to go into very dangerous waters undercover as a nanny in the house of a ruthless, heartless mobster. Brenna has no skills with children, is pretty indifferent to them. Surprise, surprise…she soon falls in love with both children and is ready to put her own life in danger to protect them.

This is primarily a law-and-order detective novel driven by Brenna/Raven trying to get evidence against an evil man who is a killer…the father of those children. The drive to bring this corrupt, depraved killer drives the story, and it is also story with Christian characters maintaining their values, living their lives and doing their jobs. I recommend it as a suspenseful, seat of your pants read.

Purchase ALIAS RAVEN BLACK on Amazon

Guarding Candy Kane by V.B. Tenery ~ a review

Guarding Candy KaneChristmas novella, Mystery, RomSuspense

This is a wonderful Christmas mystery. I enjoyed reading the mystery driven part of it and the Christmas part of it. Loved the main characters. At points, the suspense was chilling, by the end it was uplifting and filled with Christmas cheer.

I loved the Colorado setting. In one scene we’re walking with the characters through the quaint village of Christmas Tyme, with all its cheerful seasonal decorations. Then in another scene, we’re in the snow-swept Colorado wilderness fearing for the characters’ lives.

The author is a skillful writer who takes the reader through a delightful Christmas mystery and adds that something additional that makes it a read that’s on more than one level. If I had one question to ask the author, it would be: “What’s next?”

Purchase GUARDING CANDY KANE on Amazon

Whispering Hope by Peggy Blann Phifer ~ spotlight

Whispering Hope

What an amazing cover. I’m thrilled to spotlight Peggy Blann Phifer’s new release WHISPERING HOPE .

*****

1930 Chicago is no place for a Wisconsin country girl.

Virginia Hopewell visits her cousin in Chicago and gets caught up in a deadly gangster shooting at a speakeasy, barely escaping with her life. After learning of the tragic death of her father, brother, and sister-in-law, Ginny returns to Wisconsin and convinces her mother to reopen the resort her father had closed after losing everything in the stock market crash in 1929.

Ransom Blake, an agent with the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition, had been at the same speakeasy acting on a tip about the shooting. Rance is charged with finding the gangster responsible. He and his team are sent to Wisconsin where the man was reported being seen, and to investigate how illegal liquor from Canada is making its way to Chicago.

With the opening of Whispering Hope Resort, Rance registers as a guest and comes face to face with the lovely redhead he’d briefly encountered at the speakeasy during the shooting.

INTERVIEW:

Nike:  Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

Peggy:  I like to think I was. That my mother was an English teacher certainly helped a lot. But I hated diagraming sentences I’ve always loved reading and could usually be found with my nose buried in a book. Writing not so much. I actually didn’t start writing seriously until age 50. Call me a late-bloomer.

Nike:  Do you read much? If so, who are your favorite authors? Do you read in only one genre and/or market, or do you “cross-over”?

Peggy:  My reading tastes are an eclectic mix. Everything from the old classics (Dickens, Tolstoy) and then jumped to James A. Michener and Leon Uris. Later on, I devoured Terri Blackstock. Some of my recent and current favorite writers are Kathi Macias, James Scott Bell, Harry (H.L.) Wegley, and–—ahem—Nike Chillemi.

Nike:  Do you have a presence on social media? If so, where do you interact with readers the most?

Peggy:  I use Twitter a lot, but my major presence is on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

 

Pegg

BIO:

Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer, Peg didn’t start taking writing seriously until age fifty.

Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A second novel, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, released in November 2014, revised and re-released in late 2015. A new work titled Whispering Hope, an historical romantic suspense, set during the years of Prohibition, released in early May, 2018. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies over the past five years.

Peg is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Peg enjoys reading, blogging, and sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and a Border Collie mix dog named Rocky.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND PURCHASE LINKS:

Blog/website: http://whispersinpurple.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pegphifer @pegphifer

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/pegphifer

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+AuthorPeggyBlannPhifer/posts

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/pbphifer

Email: pbphifer@centurylink.net

Purchase link for Whispering Hope: https://amzn.to/2KURU8x

 

Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss ~ new release

Three Strand Cord

Tracy Krauss is a wonderful and exciting Christians author who isn’t afraid to treat her themes in a fresh way.

Fate brought them together, but can their friendship survive the tangled web of danger and deception that threatens their lives?

Tempest. Stella. Cherise. ~~ When Cherise convinces Tempest to pretend to be her so that she can sneak out of the country to be with her dashing Italian boyfriend, she is inadvertently implicated in an international drug ring. An unexpected complication forces Tempest to prolong the charade and she finds herself attracted to the very man who might be out to cause her harm. Meanwhile, Stella’s high ideals are met with suspicion and disdain at her father’s Texas ranch, until she uncovers a dangerous secret that could put everything she holds dear in jeopardy. At the same time, her own errant emotions take over as she falls in love with two brothers at the same time. Things heat up when Cherise is kidnapped and the three friends must turn to one another – and God – to get out of harm’s way. Three Strand Cord is a story of intrigue and romance told from three different points of view, all coming together to prove that when it comes to true friendship, ‘a three strand cord is not easily broken’.

A Few Questions For Tracy:

Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

I had the idea and then wrote the first draft as a ‘Nanowrimo’ project. Once it was polished up it sat with my agent for about a year. Eventually we went our separate ways when it wasn’t selling. It went through many transformations during that time and I must say I really appreciated the honesty of my beta readers. One asked, “Who is this for, anyway?” and I had to stop and take a good look at it and make some changes. The thing about writing ‘edgy’ Christian books is, you still have to keep in mind that it is for a Christian audience and make sure that you don’t cross the line in some areas.

Is this novel part of a series?

Yes it is the first in a three part series. I have the second book written but the third isn’t much more than an outline. However, I want to get them all out there this year… not sure it’s going to happen! Now that I have ‘retired’ from my day job and will be writing full time (my dream!) I hope that I can make this a reality. Anyway, BLOOD TIES is Book 2 and TEMPEST TOSSED is Book 3.

When did you start writing for publication? What drives you to write? 

I’ve been writing for more than thirty years but my first book came out in 2009, so I’ve been a ‘published’ author for almost ten years. In that time I’ve written eight full length novels, had nine of my stage plays published, two devotional books, one illustrated children’s book, and have contributed to several anthologies, short story collections, and magazines. I like the way you worded the question, “What drives you?” because I do feel driven. I can’t NOT write, so even if I never published another thing, I’d still be clacking at the keys. I do believe, though, that writing for me is a calling – a ministry. My work tends to be what some would call ‘edgy’, but that is what I think God has called me to write, so I do, whether it is the most popular or not. My goal is to reach people with the gospel, and as we all know, humanity isn’t perfect, yet Jesus hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors anyway.

How did you go about researching for this novel?

The book takes place in several different locations: Boston, Los Angeles, a Texas ranch, and Rome. I have been to both Boston and L.A. but still relied heavily on the internet for some of my research. I had to pick the brain of a writer colleague who lives in Texas and then I asked my own daughters, who have been to Rome, if I got that part right. I try to keep it fairly generic if I don’t actually know how something looks or works. Hopefully, the story itself carries readers through any details that aren’t exact.

Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

BLOOD TIES is the next in the series after THREE STRAND CORD. It picks up where TSC leaves off, following one of the main women from the story who didn’t ‘win’ at love. It follows the same formula in that it is written from three Points of View only this time, two of them are male – also people we met in book one. I won’t say much more or I might have to insert a ‘spoiler alert’ about which woman’s love life doesn’t work out…

Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

My senior English teacher encouraged me to go to this camp for writers one summer but I didn’t go. I think I felt intimidated – like I wasn’t good enough. It certainly planted the seed, though. I read tons of books. I was super into Edgar Rice Burroughs at one point (Tarzan) as well as Science fiction. I still love Sci-fi, dystopian, or any type of speculative fiction as well a Christian romance and suspense. One of my all time favourites is still Frank Peretti and I love Ted Dekker’s

 

Tracy Krauss

About the author:

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and best selling novels, stage plays, devotionals and children’s books in print. Her work strikes a chord with those looking for thought provoking faith based fiction laced with romance, suspense and humor – no sugar added. She holds a B.Ed from the U of S and has lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. She and her husband currently reside in beautiful BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. http://tracykrauss.com  – fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

Links:

Website:  http://www.tracykrauss.com

Blog: www.tracykrauss.com/blog

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Krauss 

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