LitCrit: Mystery

Mystery novels are seen in many different variations, it’s seen across borders in the mystery novels your parents read when you were a child, to the young adult mysteries, I personally lean towards. The genre of mystery first came onto the literary scene at the start of the 19th century, when the industrial revolution and heightened urbanisation caused police forces to become institutionalised.

Mystery novels are unique in the sense that they almost always tell a story within the main story. The mystery our main characters are trying to work out is usually a separate tale than the one we’re reading, and it includes a different set of characters as well.

Common characteristics for the mystery genre are:

  • The perfect crime
  • A wrongly accused suspect, who has a lot of evidence pointing at them
  • The superior mind of the detective, and the powers of observation
  • The unexpected conclusion, where the detective reveals how the identity of the culprit was obtained.

The danger present in mystery novels usually intensifies, as the detection progresses. It is usually moderate for the majority of the novel, but starts rising the closer the detective gets to the truth.

Many different sub-genres exist within the mystery genre some of the biggest ones being:

  • Hard-boiled
    • Usually features a professional detective as the protagonist, who is struggling with their own inner demons.
    • Murder and crime happen in detailed and gritty scenarios, and violence is described in detail.
  • Soft-boiled
    • Uses the same set-up as hard-boiled, but features a lighter tone, and less graphic sex/violence.
  • Cozy mysteries
    • The setting of the novel is intimate, for example a small town or a community of people.
    • The tone of the novel is light, and the actual crime, is never described in gory detail.

These subgenres will not be able to encompas all the different mystery novels out there right now, there will always be novels, which ppke out. They do a good job of summarizing a good portion of them.

Some Mystery novels are:

  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Truth be told, I liked that blurriness. That line where reality and fiction jutted up against each other.

  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

When you have enough power and money, you can dictate the meanings of words.

  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.


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