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The Detective Fiction Genre

What is Detective Fiction?

The detective novel is a mystery novel in which the crimes are solved by a detective, either a professional or an amateur. The detective is typically the protagonist of the book and uses insights to solve the crime. This is a fairly broad definition of the genre, so specific definitions may be hard to come by.

Detective Fiction Characteristics

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  • Level of Characterization

    The character may or may not be well drawn. The character may be as well drawn as a literary novel, or maybe a series of quirks masquerading as a person..

  • Level of Plot

    Since a detective is trying to figure out a crime, the plot is typically the most important of the literary elements in the book.

  • Level of Mystery

    The detective novel requires a certain level of mystery, given that the detective's purpose in the book is to solve the crime at hand.

  • Level of Suspense

    There may be suspense elements if there are timetables that must be met or danger to the main characters.

  • Level of Thriller

    The detective may be involved in a plot that has larger ramifications and may be political in nature.

  • Level of Strangeness

    The detective novel can be as odd as the author wants it to be. The main character may be quirky or the circumstances of the crime may be peculiar.

  • Level of Violence

    Given the breadth of this subgenre, the detective novel may see large amounts of violence either in the method of murder or violence against the detective himself.

  • Level of Action

    There may be significant amounts of action in the book, ranging from fist fights and car chases to saving the world from destruction.

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

    Primarily the detective novel falls under the mystery category. The detective's job is to solve a mystery. There may be elements of suspense in the method of murder or solution. There can be suspenseful scenes or plots if time elements are involved. The novel may wax poetic about the crime as a crime novel as well.

Related MYSTERY Subgenres

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  • Hardboiled detectives, amateur detectives, quirky detectives, Golden Age Mysteries.

Detective Fiction isn't for you IF...

prefer books about ordinary people solving crimes.

Popular Detective Fiction Books