May 17, 2013

May Genreflecting: Mystery & Suspense: The Details

Genreflecting wordle

Based on the Collins English Dictionary, a subgenre is "a category that is a subdivision of a larger genre." (Source) Mystery & suspense books are by nature very inquisitive. There is either a puzzle to be solved or some future event to be anticipated. When I hear the word mystery I often find myself thinking of a good detective novel like Sherlock Holmes. It's the thrill of the chase that allows me to thoroughly enjoy these stories. Suspense novels often times give me a sense of dread that I just can't quite pinpoint. They're not necessarily scary or of-putting, they just exude a sense of anticipation that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

While suspense doesn't really have subgenres per se, mystery certainly does. Depending of what kind of setting and characters you enjoy, there is definitely something to be found for you among mystery books. I personally prefer paranormal mysteries. While contemporary mysteries are alright, I prefer basic realistic/contemporary fiction. I have been known to enjoy a historical mystery for the sake of the time period. The 1920's & 1940's are some of my favorite decades, so if a mystery is set during those years I am far more likely to read it. When it comes down to it though, I love a good paranormal mystery for the simple fact that there are so many non-traditional elements. In a paranormal book, almost anything can happen, so I find the over-abundance of possibilities even more exciting in a mystery context.

Some of my favorite books that fall under these categories are The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater, Heist Society by Ally Carter, & The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci. 

While you may hold strong to the notion that The Raven Boys is simply a fantasy/paranormal fiction book, I would argue that it falls under paranormal mystery. We are presented with a challenge/puzzle at the very beginning of the book. We know the two possible outcomes for the book & now we must follow the characters are they work their way through each obstacle to discover the truth. 

Heist Society on the other hand is a fantastic example of what I love in a good suspense novel. While for the most part the stakes are not life & death in these fun novels about a teenager burglar & her band of merry thieves, there is definitely a sense of an impending situation. Nothing is as simple as a heist, the motives behind all of these jobs are what drive the story and leave you guessing as to whether they will succeed & where they will go next.

Do you have any favorite mystery or suspense novels? I'm looking to broaden my reading palate & would love some suggestions! Come back next week when I discuss my older book The Killer's Cousin.

1 comment:

Julie S said...

I love paranormal mysteries as well. That's probably my favorite type of paranormal, which is already my favorite genre. This is a really cool topic by the way. I like how you break this out. I enjoy novels where there is a puzzle to solve or some problem to deal with, as long as it is well written so we get clues along the way, rather than one big discovery at the end with little to do with it throughout the book. I'm with you on suspense novels - they are usually trying to get the shock value effect and are sometimes more scary than mysterious.