Mystery and Detective Novels Versus Suspense and Thriller Fiction

Mystery and Detective Novels Versus Suspense and Thriller Fiction

by Ann Harrison

Today, I’m going to talk about the difference between mystery, suspense and thriller novels. When I first began my research on this fascinating topic, I thought that suspense and thriller novels fell into the same genre, but my research of blog posts and other sites showed me I was wrong. Let’s discuss each genre in turn, as we get into how they are similar to one another, and how they are different.mystery-fiction

What’s a Suspense Novel?

When I think of suspense novels, I picture those nightmarish situations that make your spine tingle, your stomach churn, and make you gasp in horror. I often find myself talking to the character, trying to warn him or her of danger. When I write a suspenseful scene in one of my stories or novels in progress, I get the same creepy feeling, as I would if I was reading the book. During my research I read a quote from an author that describes a suspense novel like a puzzle, with all the pieces fitting together to find the resolution. For instance, when you get to the end of a suspense novel, you may think “Oh my goodness, He’s the bad guy!” The bad guy turns out not to be the one you suspected at first. He or she, as in some cases is the person who leads the unsuspecting victims into eminent danger.

What Is a Thriller?

Although it is very similar to suspense, a thriller novel is a story that is scary, the plot thickens, the characters are at greater risk, and the story moves the reader like a horrifying roller coaster ride with many twists and turns at lightning speed through the story, then the process starts all over again. Don’t forget the invisible ticking clock or “time bomb” as it were. The question, in the back of my mind, as I read a legal thriller by T. Davis Bunn is “Will the bad guys get what they richly deserve, or will the attorney be the one who is found guilty and be made a laughing stock of the whole town? Where suspense and thriller novels are similar in the fact that they make you want to keep reading, thrillers have heightened sense of danger from the beginning, where suspense novels may start out somewhat at a slower pace, but then the pace of the story increases as you go along.

The Mystery Novel

Although thrillers and suspense novels have an element of spine tingling mystery to them, a mystery (or detective novel) focuses more on the investigation, than the element of fear, suspense, or surprise. A mystery novel focuses more on who done it, and why he or she did it. The detectives, whether hard boiled, or amateur slooth, tries to find the clues to solve the puzzle. Here’s where a mystery is similar to suspense, because both genres are similar to fitting the pieces of the puzzle together to find the culprit, but there is more of an element of danger in a suspense novel, whereas the danger often times comes at the very end of a mystery novel.

Can you tell a difference between the three genres?

About the Author

Ann Harrison is a totally blind author, who grew up in the small town of Rochelle, Georgia, and has moved back to her family home after living in North Georgia for several years. Ann has written many articles of general interest for a number of clients since June of 2010, including the Cordele Dispatch. She has also published a short story entitled “The Big Climb” in Awethology Light. Ann also published a story entitled “The Woods” in December Awethology Light Volume by The #Awethors. She is currently working on several novels, and a self-help book. To read more of Ms. Harrison’s inspirational writings, visit her blog at


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