Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mystery Novels, Part I

Everybody loves a good mystery. I'm not sure why that is,...I guess it is simple that people are curious by nature and trying to solve a crime or murder stokes the curiosity of almost anyone.  I guess that is why I enjoy mystery novels. Mystery novels have an abundance of labels attached to them. There are thrillers, whodunits, mysteries, crime fiction, lock door puzzles, cozy mysteries and even forensic crime stories.  Alas although there are specific categories of mystery writing, people often have trouble stating exactly what makes a mystery novel, a mystery.  In this blog I will delve into two of the sub genres: locked room mysteries and cozy mysteries.

Locked Room Mystery 

Locked room mysteries became popular during the Golden Age of Mysteries (1920s and 1930s). Simply defined this sub-genre is any crime that is committed in a room or enclosure with no apparent exit, leaving the detective to determine how the crime was committed or how the killer escaped.  This sub-genre was first introduce in Edgar Allan Poe's, The Murders in the Rue Morgue.  However John Dickson Carr became the master of this type of detective story. Here are a few of the best.

Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rim of the Pit by Hank Talbot
The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston LeRoux
The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
The King is Dead by Ellery Queen
Killed On the Rocks by William L. DeAndrea
Cover Her Face by PD James
A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
Spies of Sobeck by P.C. Doherty

Cozy Mysteries

Cozy mysteries are often considered traditional mysteries and have a small town feel. They are characterized by a small town rural setting; an amateur sleuth (usually female) leads a cast of quirky, friends or coworkers and there is usually a hobby or activity hook (like knitting, baking, cats, etc). The writing is not filled with profanity and the good guys always win and there is very little description of violence or sex. A good example of this genre is Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series. The following titles are also cozy mysteries.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Mum's the Word by Kate Collins
Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
Three Day Town by Margaret Maron
The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt
Grave Sight by Charlene Harris
Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell
Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert

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