Mystery novels provide readers with a thrilling ride. The stories keep people turning the pages and getting more books. They feed our intellectual curiosity and challenge our deductive reasoning. The first ones appeared during the 1800s with works by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. The genre blossomed in the early 1900s thanks to Agatha Christie and Edward Stratemeyer. The latest mystery novels owe much to these pioneers. The genre has grown bigger with diverse approaches being taken by contemporary authors.
The usual story involves a death, theft, or some other form of crime that remains unsolved. There will a parade of suspects which the readers will get to know throughout the book. Their backgrounds and possible motives for doing the crime will be explored. Evidence will be uncovered one by one until the whole story is pieced together to form a logical conclusion. The main protagonist is often a detective but it could also be a regular person with access to information or unusual powers of deduction.
In legal thrillers, the story revolves around cases being handled by a lawyer or a firm. The team slowly unearths the facts in an attempt to save their client from what seems to be a certain guilty verdict. Often, they will encounter roadblocks along the way because of forces that are protecting their own interests. The drama occurs both in and out of the court. This subgenre requires a great deal of research and novels are usually based on true stories.
Sometimes the mystery can be related to a person’s or a population’s health. For example, there might be a sudden breakout. The protagonist must find out what’s causing it and how it is spreading to contain the problem. Then it is a race to find the cure and save the people. It could also be smaller in scale with only one patient suffering from a rare condition or a mysterious accident. Gifted authors can engage readers and make the science interesting.
In these novels, the mystery lies not in the identity of the criminals but in how the police could can catch them. A good example would be serial killers who have a pattern for selecting their victims. They would often leave clues on their victims for the detectives to see. It becomes a race to find the next person and stop the killer before he strikes again.
Hardboiled mysteries, on the other hand, focus on the grittiness of life fighting organized crime. Detectives have to deal with violence and corrupt legal systems as they solve crimes and make those responsible pay for their actions.