- Mystery (fiction)
Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term that is often used as a synonym of
detective fiction— in other words a novel or short story in which a detective (either professional or amateur) solves a crime. The term "mystery fiction" may sometimes be limited to the subset of detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle element and its logical solution (cf. whodunit), as a contrast to hardboileddetective stories which focus on action and gritty realism. However, in more general usage "mystery" may be used to describe any form of crime fiction, even if there is no mystery to be solved. For example, the Mystery Writers of Americadescribes itself as "the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre". [ [http://www.mysterywriters.org/ Mystery Writers of America ] ]
Although normally associated with the crime genre, the term "mystery fiction" may in certain situations refer to a completely different genre, where the focus is on "
supernatural" mystery (even if no crime is involved). This usage was common in the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, where titles such as "Dime Mystery", "Thrilling Mystery" and "Spicy Mystery" offered what at the time were described as " weird menace" stories – supernatural horror in the vein of " Grand Guignol". This contrasted with parallel titles such as "Dime Detective", "Thrilling Detective" and "Spicy Detective", which contained conventional hardboiled crime fiction. The first use of "mystery" in this sense was by "Dime Mystery", which started out as an ordinary crime fiction magazine but switched to "weird menace" during the latter part of 1933. cite book |last=Haining |first=Peter |authorlink=Peter Haining |title=The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines |year=2000 |publisher= Prion Books|id=ISBN 1-85375-388-2 ]
Many believe the first mystery story to be
The Murders in the Rue Morgueby Edgar Allan Poe(1841), followed by "The Woman in White" (1860) by Wilkie Collins. Collins wrote several more in this genre, including " The Moonstone" (1868) which is thought to be his masterpiece. The genre began to expand near the turn of century with the development of dime novelsand pulp magazines. Books were especially helpful to the genre with many authors writing in the genre in the 1920s. An important contribution to mystery fiction in the 1920s was the development of the juvenile mystery by Edward Stratemeyer. Stratemeyer originally developed and wrote the Hardy Boysand Nancy Drewmysteries written under the Franklin W. Dixonand Carolyn Keenepseudonyms, respectively (and later written by his daughter, Harriet S. Adams, and other authors). The 1920s also gave rise to one of the most popular mystery authors of all time, Agatha Christie.
The massive popularity of
pulp magazinesin the 1930s and 1940s increased interest in mystery fiction. Pulp magazines decreased in popularity in the 1950s with the rise of televisionso much that the numerous titles available then are reduced to two today: " Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine" and " Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine". The detective fiction author Ellery Queen( pseudonymof Frederic Dannayand Manfred B. Lee) is also credited with continuing interest in mystery fiction.
Interest in mystery fiction continues to this day because of various television shows which have used mystery themes over the years and the many juvenile and adult novels which continue to be published. There is some overlap with "thriller" or "suspense" novels and authors in those genres may consider themselves mystery novelists.
Comic books and graphic novels have carried on the tradition, and film adaptations have helped to re-popularize the genre in recent times. [ [http://www.ou.edu/worldlit/onlinemagazine/2007July/2graphic-mystery.pdf J. Madison Davis: "How graphic can a mystery be?", "World Literature Today", July-August 2007] ]
Mystery Writers of America, an organization for authors of mystery, detective, and crime fiction, was founded in 1945. This popular genre has made the leap into the online world, spawning countless websites devoted to every aspect of the genre, with even a few supposedly written by real detectives. [http://privatedick.blogspot.com]
Mystery fiction can be divided into several categories, among them the 'cozy mystery,' 'police procedural,' 'hardboiled,' etc.
List of crime writers
List of mystery writers
List of thriller authors
The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time
* [http://www.awardannals.com/wiki/Honor_roll:Mystery/Suspense_books The most honored Mystery books]
* [http://members.aol.com/MG4273/classics.htm A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection]
* [http://www.browsersbookstore.com/cozy.html Cozy Mystery reading list]
* [http://www.bookmarksmagazine.com/great-mysteries-vol-ii/patrick-smith Great Mysteries reading list] from Bookmarks Magazine
* [http://librivox.org/the-big-bow-mystery-by-israel-zangwill/ A reading of "The Big Bow Mystery" one of the earliest locked-room mystery novels]
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