Understanding Mystery Fiction

Mystery fiction, which appeared about 200 years ago, is now one of the most famous literary genres for those looking for psychology in their reading. Learn about the many components that comprise the genre and those who have greatly influenced it in the present day.

What is Mystery Fiction?

If you’re old enough, you may have read Nancy Drew mysteries or The Hardy Boys when you were a child. Because of the riddles, they answered, these tales were quite popular. To begin with, a good mystery should be appreciated by everyone who enjoys the human intellect. Mystery fiction is a literary genre that concentrates on an individual trying to solve a mystery or solve a crime. Many people use the terms criminal fiction or detective fiction when describing these stories.

Short tales created for a particular audience that conform to the usual standards of the mystery genre exist within the genre.

  • A realistic but exciting story with many twists and turns.
  • Evidence of foreshadowing.
  • A starting crime that is both credible and plausible.
  • False indications.
  • A person who solves crimes, often known as the protagonist or detective
  • Unexpected antagonist, criminal, or perpetrator
  • A dramatic conclusion to the story at the eleventh hour

Sub Genres of Mystery Fiction

Doctor Detective

A mystery subgenre in which a physician assumes the role of a detective to investigate a murder or other crime. In these tales, doctors use their specific scientific expertise to solve a crime that law enforcement officers or detectives cannot unravel.

Young Adult

A subgenre in which the heroine is a teenager who solves a crime or murder. Adults in these tales are often incapable of assisting, corrupting, or ignoring the protagonist’s assistance. There are often themes of “coming of age,” and violence is sometimes minimized.


It features a bloodless crime and a victim for whom the viewer lacks compassion. Almost usually, the investigator is a novice, and sex and violence are minimized. Often, the crime occurs in a tiny town where everybody knows one another.

Child in Peril

It is a subgenre in which a kid is abducted or vanishes. Frequently, the kid’s mom and dad (or other guardians) intervene to save the youngster. There is often heavy importance on the parents’ grief and loss as they assist in locating their kids. While violence may occur, it is seldom observed or is extremely subdued when directed towards a kid.


This type of subgenre includes explicit violence and sex. Frequently set in a gritty urban environment. Slang is often employed, and Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961), a former writer to pulp publications, is sometimes credited with inventing the genre.

Furry Sleuth

A dog or cat is assigned the task of investigating a crime. It is often recounted from the animal’s perspective, portraying them as completely conscious and capable of communication. In terms of tone, most novels classified as furry sleuth mysteries are subgenres of cozy mysteries.


It is a subgenre in which the detective is aided in solving a case by a handicap. For instance, they may be blind, deaf, or unable to walk, yet the handicap enables the protagonist to view things differently and solve the mystery.

Bumbling Detective

It is a subgenre in which a character makes many errors while attempting to solve a mystery yet succeeds. Typically, there is a great deal of humor involved in the process, and the protagonist overlooks critical clues, making solving the murder more complex than it should be. Frequently, the story is complicated.

Police Procedural

In this subgenre, the criminal is apprehended by police detectives (or a detective plus a team of technologists). In this subgenre, the perspective often changes between the detective(s) and the criminal (s). Serial killer mysteries, as well as forensic mysteries, are often featured in this subgenre.


In this subgenre, the investigator is transported to a historical environment and is tasked with solving a crime. Numerous historical mystery writers specialize in specific eras or periods (Ancient China, Elizabethan England, etc.).


This mystery subgenre leaves no question about “who” the culprit is. Rather than that, the narrative centers on “how” the perpetrator is apprehended. As the reader witnesses the murder, the narrative centers on how the culprit will be apprehended.


A subgenre in which a professional chef plays a prominent role. Murder and other criminal aspects are often entwined with food and recipes. Some common locations are bakeries, desserts, restaurants, and wineries.

Woman in Peril

A lady is abducted (or otherwise in peril) and must be rescued. A more contemporary, feminist, and modern take on this subgenre is a tale about a woman who gets abducted (or becomes a victim of a crime) and saves herself by her intellect and initiative.

Locked Room

It is also referred to as a puzzle mystery. A crime is committed in an area that seems challenging to enter/exit without being detected. The protagonist must solve the mystery via diligent observation and exceptional reasoning. With his 1841 short tale “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Edgar Allen Poe is widely regarded as the founder of this subgenre.

Private Detective

Whether professional or amateur, a private investigator finds a missing person or solves a crime in a particular subgenre within the genre of private investigation. This subgenre started in the mid-nineteenth century, around the same time as speculative fiction, and has remained highly popular for mystery novels as a genre.


These tales, which often overlap with the fantasy, include classic mystery elements, such as a bizarre crime or murder. However, a crime is committed by a ghost or other supernatural entity. They often fall within the cozy mystery subgenre since they include little gore or violence.

Children’s Story

It is intended for a younger target audience that is not yet classed as young adults. It is usually between the ages of 6 to 12. Typically, a kid protagonist solves a problem, often with the assistance of their pals. Violence is rare if it occurs at all, and life lessons are often taught.

Amateur Sleuth

It is a cozy thriller subgenre that often centers on a non-law enforcement figure who is not affiliated with a sleuthing or detective agency and is tasked with solving a crime committed against someone dear to them.


The perpetrator of the crime or murder is revealed to be one of the most improbable individuals at the conclusion. These tales are often intricate and plot-driven, enabling the viewer to participate in the same reasoning process as the protagonist throughout an inquiry.


A subgenre in which the protagonist(s) is/are the perpetrator(s) (s). There is often a sense of comedy and intelligence present, as well as an element of adventure. A classic caper tale includes the main characters committing robberies, swindles, or kidnappings “seen” by the reader. The police investigation into the crimes, trying to prevent or solve them, may also be recorded, but it is not the narrative’s main emphasis.


A type of mystery fiction in which the protagonist is often an attorney who solves the case independently when the police are either incapable or corrupt to do so. The protagonist’s life and the lives of their significant others or family are often jeopardized. Additionally, this subgenre includes courtroom dramas.

Diverse & Multicultural

While this type of mystery is usually dense with character development, it depicts a distinct, alien society through the eyes of ethnically varied people. These tales may vary from cozy to hardboiled, with clues and actions based on cultural differences.

Are you looking for a literary agent? Handing your book to publishers is a daunting task. However, companies like Quantum Discovery can help you with your needs when it comes to having your book delivered to the right publisher. Contact our professionals by calling (888) 755-6875 or visit quantumdiscovery.net to know more.

1 thought on “Understanding Mystery Fiction”

  1. Pingback: Genres and Subgenres in Fiction - Quantum Discovery

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *