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The Crime Mystery Genre

What is a Crime Mystery?

This is by far the broadest of the subcategories in the mystery world. The crime novel is a fictional tale in which a crime takes place. Though it is often used as a term to reflect a literary work involving a crime, some aficionados have opened the meaning to any and all books with crimes. However, for the most part, readers will see literary novels with a strong criminal or mystery element labeled as crime. It can be difficult at times to pinpoint the exact boundaries of the crime novel.

Crime Mystery Characteristics

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  • Level of Characterization

    The literary elements of the book require that the characters are well-drawn. The emotions and thoughts and feelings of the characters are front and center and will be revealed to the readers.

  • Level of Plot

    There will be a strong element of plot in the book as well. The book will have defined events that happen, typically leading up to and resolving the crimes.

  • Level of Mystery

    The mystery is secondary to the plot and characters in the book. There are instances where the more literary crime novels do not even provide a solution to the mystery posed.

  • Level of Suspense

    There may or may not be suspense, though in most cases the suspense is limited. The plot is more attuned to bringing insight to the events rather than bringing heightened excitement.

  • Level of Thriller

    Crime novels and thrillers do not often mix, though there are a few exceptions.

  • Level of Strangeness

    The strangeness can come from the characters, who may be unreliable narrators or those with a unique perspective.

  • Level of Violence

    The crime involved will typically include some violence, but the crime novel is more a work of art, rather than a commercial work.

  • Level of Action

    The action is not a major part of the novel. Characters may travel or run, but there are rarely fight scenes and car chases within a crime novel.

  • Degree of Thriller, Suspense, Crime, or Mystery in this the Crime Subgenre

    The crime novel obviously falls into the crime genre. There may be mystery or suspense elements on occasion, and even thriller elements (rarely), but mainly this is a literary novel that involves a crime as a plot point.

Related MYSTERY Subgenres

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  • None really.

Crime Mystery isn't for you IF...

like real people committing real crimes for real reasons. Or if you need a dictionary to understand the language of the crime novel.

Popular Crime Mystery Books