'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Audiobooks
- Best Mystery Books of 2016
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
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'ERA' Best Lists
'GENRE' Best Lists
- Best Legal Mystery Books
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'AUDIENCE' Best Lists
- Best Mystery Books for Women
- Best Mystery Books by Female Authors
- Best Young Adult Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Books for Children
The Child in Peril Mystery Genre
What is the Child in Peril Mystery?
A parent's greatest fear is a child in mortal danger, which is the premise of the child in peril subgenre. In this type of fiction, the parents are horrified to learn that their child is in grave danger. Typically, the child is kidnapped or disappears and the parents have to solve the crime to regain their lost progeny. In the meantime, the angst of losing their child overwhelms them.
Child in Peril Mystery Characteristics
- Level of Characterization
The characters must be well-drawn. The reader will spend a significant amount of time with the characters in their dark hours, so they must be fully realized.
- Level of Plot
The plot is key, since locating the child is the key part of the story.
- Level of Mystery
There may be some mystery if the reader doesn't know who took the child, but in many cases, the reader knows who took the child and why.
- Level of Suspense
The suspense tends to be high as the characters work against a time schedule to get their child back before the kid is taken away or killed.
- Level of Thriller
There are some thrillers where the child is taken, but mostly the stories are more likely to be domestic suspense
- Level of Strangeness
The disappearance of the child may have some odd elements to it, but for the most part, the case is fairly straight-forward.
- Level of Violence
The violence to others may be well documented in the story, but in most cases the harm to the child (if any) is understated.
- Level of Action
There may be significant amounts of action as the parents look for the missing child. They may be involved in fights and car chases.
- Degree of Thriller, Suspense, Crime, and Mystery
This subgenre falls mainly in the suspense category. The books may have some mystery if the reader does not know who took the kids or why the kids are in danger, but both of these elements may be revealed early on. There may be some thriller elements when the stakes are high, but it's not needed. Some famous crime novels have been written in this genre, so the child-in-peril book can be a crime novel.
Related MYSTERY Subgenres
Suspense. Most of these titles fall under the suspense category, because in most cases, the child is returned safely.
Child in Peril Mystery isn't for you IF...
don't like children in danger, don't like suspense novels where you know the kid will come back.
- 1 Mischief
By Charlotte Armstrong. Beware when the babysitter isn't what she seems.
- 2 The Fiend
By Margaret Millar. A pedophile watches two young girls. Possibly this author's best work.
- 3 Into the Woods
By Tana French. Children are murdered and disappear in the woods in the title.
- 4 The End of Everything
By Megan Abbot. A 13 year old girl tries to learn what happened to her best friend.
- 5 Cry No More
By Linda Howard. Milla Edge looks into a baby smuggling ring.
- 6 Winterkill
By C-J-Box. Joe Pickett's foster daughter is kidnapped.
- 7 Pretty Girls
By Karen Slaughter. Twenty years after a teenaged girl is kidnapped, her two younger sisters look into the disappearance.
- 8 The Wrong Girl
By Hank Phillippi Ryan. A look at a foster care system gone wrong that reunites children with the wrong birth parents.
- 9 Copper Sun
By Sharon M. Draper. A young girl is kidnapped and entered into the slave trade.
- Winterkill (C. J. Box)