Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This quote is one that's always stuck with me, ever since I was sixteen, poring over my Sherlock Holmes books. I've always had a deep love of mystery stories, ranging from classics like Conan Doyle or Edgar Allan Poe, to more contemporary authors like James Patterson and, my ultimate favourite, Agatha Christie. There was always something keeping me on the edge of my seat, or challenging me to try to figure out the culprit and/or their tricks by the end of the book.
I find that crime and mystery books can often be misunderstood, especially when someone thinks that it's not their cup of tea because it's too dark or gruesome. Granted, there are many dark and gruesome crime and mystery stories out there, but mystery and crime is such a broad genre. Here's a quick overview of some common types of mystery and crime:
As the name implies, cozy crime is much lighter than many of its counterparts. Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton are perhaps two of the most popular cozy crime authors. I love that even though the stories are light, the plots are compelling, and you end up with a page-turner you've just stayed up all night reading.
Another one that's easy to tell from the name, true crime is an excellent way for biography and non-fiction readers to get their dose of mystery. Peter Graham's books about the Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch, and the Timaru poisonings make for very fascinating and informative reads.
Another favourite genre of mine (especially Victorian crime), historical mysteries take place in different times. True crime often blends with this category too. Some key authors of historical mysteries are Maureen Jennings (the Murdoch Mysteries), and Kerry Greenwood.
Short for 'Scandinavian Crime', these books are stories written by Scandinavian authors. A prime example of this is Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. These books do tend to be darker and more gruesome.
One of the very popular sub-genres, thriller mysteries are fast-paced with some similarities to action fiction. Lee Child is arguable one of the most popular thriller mystery writers, along with others like James Patterson.
A crime fiction sub-genre started by Patricia Cornwell, forensic crime focuses on the scientific investigative elements of mystery and crime stories. These stories tend to draw investigation methods into focus, and are less fast-paced than some other genres. Kathy Reichs is another popular forensic crime writer.
There are a variety of other crime and mystery sub-genres, such as legal thrillers, police procedurals, spy novels, and psychological thrillers. These five categories, however, illustrate how diverse and broad 'crime and mystery' is as a genre.
Challenge yourself, and try a sub-genre you've never read before you may find a new favourite author!
A selection of both recent and classic crime and mystery stories to suit everyone's taste. A mixture of fiction, biographies, and graphic novels, ranging from cozy crime to brutally violent, and everything in between.