For Mysteries & More!

Mystery Subgenres

With the publication, in 1841, of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Edgar Allan Poe created elements of detection and the modern murder mystery genre.  His detective, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, is said to be based on the very real François Eugène Vidocq, a criminal who eventually became the head of the Sûreté.  An autobiography of Vidocq likely insipered Poe’s creation.

Since that time, the mystery genre has evovled and expanded, witnessing the creation of subgenres, types of mysteries that have each garnered their own fans and attention.

So The Poisoned Martini offers its second Poll: Which is your favorite subgenre of mystery?  Select your choice (please pick only one) from the poll along the right column of this site.  There are dozens of possible subgenres.  I’ve reduced the poll to the most common ones.  If yours doesn’t appear, just choose other.

Here’s a quick rundown of the choices:

Cozy/Malice Domestic – The murder is likely to take place in a small town or setting in which the characters are known to each other and the victim.  Motives abound and the detective (generally an amateur sleuth) pieces the clues together leading up to the reveal of the killer’s identity.

Amateur Sleuth – Often the murder is of someone close or known to the detective, who feels the police are on the wrong track.  The detective will involve themselves in hunting down the killer to clear their good name or that of a close friend.  Suspects are not necessarily known to one another.

Police Procedural – A gritty case of murder leads the police (or criminal lab) on an investigation into how the victim died and who killed him or her.  An emphasize on actual police and crime scene investigation is required.

Private Investigator – Hard or soft-boiled, a P. I. is on the case.  Was he hired by a femme fatale?  Is she investigating a case of fraud that turns into murder?  Licensed or not, P. I.’s tangle with the criminal underworld and often with the cops.

Legal/Medical Thriller – A crime (not necessarily murder) involves a lawyer or doctor spearheading a search for the truth.   For the lawyer, the hunt often ends in the courtroom; for the doctor, the solution might be found researching in a lab.

Suspense – Here, more often than not, the protangonist is the target of a killer (maybe even a serial killer!) and the story likely leads to a cat-and mouse-game between the two.

Historical – Step back into time and follow the adventures of a detective (a man or woman ahead of the their time) who must use their wits to solve a murder without the benefit of modern day forensics.

Paranormal – There’s more than meets the eye here with vampires, witches, and werewolves inflitrating the story.  The murder involves the supernatural and is solved by them or someone “on the fringe” who knows all about them.

Several of these subgenres could be divided further.  Many might include romantic elements.  Some might be set in a fantasy or scifi world.  Or you could have an historical supense private investigator novel blending all three of these subgenres into something more.  As writing continues to evolve, the possibilities are endless…

In the meantime, be sure to voice your opinion by voiting in the poll!

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