'CORE' Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Mystery Books
- The Top 100 Mystery Books
- Best Mystery Books of 2015
- Best Mystery Series
- Best Mystery Stand Alones
- Best Modern Mystery Books
- Best Classic Mystery Books
- Underrated Mystery Books
'ERA' Best Lists
'GENRE' Best Lists
- Best Police Procedural Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Mystery Suspense Books
- Best Whodunit Mystery Books
- Best True Crime Books
- Best Mystery Thriller Books
- Best Amateur Detective Books
- Best Private Investigator Books
- Best Hard Boiled Mystery Books
- Best Literary Mystery Books
- Best Cozy Mystery Books
- Best Supernatural Mystery Books
- Best Historical Mystery Books
- Best Fantasy Mystery Books
- Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Best Romantic Mystery Books
'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 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
- 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
Hardboiled detectives, amateur detectives, quirky detectives, Golden Age Mysteries.
Detective Fiction isn't for you IF...
prefer books about ordinary people solving crimes.
- 1 Death on the Nile
By Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot solves a series of killings on a Nile cruise.
- 2 The Big Sleep
By Raymond Chandler. A general wants Philip Marlowe to determine which of his daughters is a killer.
- 3 The Maltese Falcon
By Dashiell Hammett. Sam Spade tries to learn what happened to a jewel encrusted bird while looking for his murdered partner's killer.
- 4 Murder Must Advertise
By Dorothy L. Sayers. Lord Peter solves a murder at an advertising agency.
- 5 The Hound of the Baskervilles
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A gigantic hound is killing off the heirs to the Baskerville title and Sherlock Holmes is called in to investigate.
- 6 Winter Prey
By John Sanford. Lucas Davenport looks into a serial killing in Wisconsin.
- 7 Still Life
By Louise Penny. The first novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache series which has won practically every award known to man.
- 8 The Innocence of Father Brown
By GK Chesterton. Short stories featuring the wise and forgiving cleric
- 9 Some Buried Caesar
By Rex Stout. Long considered one of the best of the Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin series that takes place on a farm.
- 10 The Case of the Howling Dog
By Erle Stanley Gardner. Perry Mason solves a tough case in his fourth adventure in the long-running series.