Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reading Challenge # 10: Merely Mystery

There is something about a mystery that I cannot resist. So I am signing up for the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge hosted by Musings of a Bookish Kitty. The aim of the challenge is to explore the different types of sub-genres in the crime fiction category.

There are 12 sub-genres to choose from:

The Whodunit: The classic crime puzzle. The story generally revolves around determine who committed the crime, and potentially apprehending them. Some Whodunits, called "fair play mysteries", will include all of the clues available in the text so that a careful reader can solve the crime on his or her own.

Locked Room Mystery: Like the Whodunit, there is a puzzle (crime) to solve. However in this instance, the crime has taken place under impossible circumstances, such as in a locked room or on an island with no way to exit or enter.

Cozy: The nice person's mystery. Often the crime, particularly if it's violent, occurs off scene. Sex and language are on the cleaner side. Humor is a common feature of the cozy.

Hard-Boiled/Noir: Often cynical, bleak or realistic, hard-boiled and noir stories often focus more on the characters involved instead of the crime. Violence and sex are not downplayed.

The Inverted Detective Story: In this style of story, the person perpetrating the crime is known up front. The point of the story is to see how (or if) the detective goes about solving the crime and how the perpetrator reacts to the investigation.

The Historical Whodunnit: Simply put, this is a mystery set in a historical setting. Often the mystery has some historical significance and features detection methods that are appropriate for that era.

The Police Procedural: Instead of featuring a independent detective, the police are investigating the crime in these stories. They often focus on the actual methods that police officers use to solve crimes.

The Professional Thriller: This kind of mystery involves a professional who is not involved directly in law enforcement, such a lawyer or doctor, who nonetheless finds themselves investigating a crime.

The Spy Novel: Related to the other professional mysteries, spy novels focus on intelligence operatives as they work to prevent or avenge some criminal plot. Spy novels can feature either in fantastic or realistic settings.

Caper Stories: While other crime and mystery stories look at the aftermath of crimes, caper stories feature criminals as the lead characters. The story usually details the planning and commission of a crime.

The Psychological Suspense: In these stories, the detective story takes on a psychological component.

Spoofs and Parodies: Spoofs and parodies make light of crime fiction, often with the goal of commenting on the conventions of the genre. Many feature famous characters, e.g. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Philip Marlowe, or pastiches of those characters.
You can either choose a few categories or read one or more books from each category. Since it is the dawn of a new year and I am feeling ambitious, I am signing up for the Shamus who has seen it all level.  i.e. I read at least one book from each category. I'll make a list as the year progresses.

For more details, go here:


  1. I am so glad you joined the challenge! I look forward to seeing what you end up reading. Like you, I can't resist a good mystery.

  2. Thanks for the warm welcome.

  3. neer, I noticed that you are doing the full challenge for the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge. Have you found a book to read for the Inverted Detective Story? That is the only one I am totally stumped on.

    1. Dear Tracy

      I am little confused between Caper stories and the Inverted Detective story. I submitted Belloc Lowndes' The Story of Ivy as a caper story but now I feel it fits the bill as regards the ID story. Nicholas Blakes' The Beast Must Die which I thought of as an ID story now seems like a caper story. You can read the reviews of both the books to decide for yourself.

      I hope this helps. Best wishes for the successful completion of the challenge.

    2. The two categories do sound very similar, don't they? I say put the books in whatever category you think fits best, Neer. :-)

    3. Tracy, what about Mr Pottermack's Oversight by Richard Austin Freeman? It's older, but it fits the category. I think.

    4. Thanks Literary Feline. I think I'll submit The Beast Must Die in The Inverted Detective category as in that the detective has an important role.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions on Inverted Detective story. I will try and find them.

    1. I await your views on them. Happy reading.