1) Anatomy of a Mystery and Elements of Mystery Fiction 1

I. Questions


1. What defines a mystery? What constitutes a mystery book? 

A mystery is a type of genre in which the plot includes some kind of crime. The constitutions of the mystery book, specifically the crime is the usual, who did it. Some specific examples of this question can be “who stole it?” or “who murdered him?”
2. Give a brief history of the mystery genre to include the contributions of: Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Agatha Christie. Be sure to describe how each one of these people has shaped/changed the genre of mystery. (When a name of an author is mentioned, it is bolded)


Mystery Fiction was first written by the writer and poet, Edgar Allen Poe, in 1841. Edgar Allen Poe had his short story “The Murders in the Rue Morge.” In this story one can see that it is a typical ‘who did it’ type of story including a smart and intelligent detective C. Auguste Dupin. There were a lot of Murder literature in the past. However, no one attempted to make a story about someone solving that problem.

Edgar Allen Poe was the first one to write in the Mystery Genre but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the one who made it immensely popular in 1891. Doyle had his own detective which was Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was a very intelligent detective like Poe’s Dupin. However, one thing that was different from Poe’s story was that Holmes had a partner who was Dr. Watson. Dr. Watson was not a genius like Holmes and is like the readers. This creates some similarities between the character and the reader which makes it more interesting for the reader to read.

97l/29/huty/7633/12However, in both Dyles and Poe’s books the readers couldn’t follow Dupin and Holmes because they would not tell the readers about some of the clues or information and the reader would feel blown away when the Detective reveals the truth of the crime. Agatha Christie was the one who changed this for the readers. Agatha Christie included an element called fair play in the mystery world which means that the reader has the same amount of clues and information as the detective. If there was one twist to these stories was the the plots were bizarre and the characters did not resembled real humans. The age of fair play was known as “The classical Age” in the world of Mystery Fiction.

After that is when Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler come in. They are the American writers who created the genre of “hard-boiled” mysteries. These were almost the opposite of the stories from the classical Age dealing with characters that actual humans might resemble topics that were true to the world. One can say that “hard boiled” mysteries were more gruesome than the stories that cam in the classical age.


3. Give a small description of the eight different sub-genres of mystery (The Detective Story, The Private Eye Story, The Hard-boiled Detective Story, The Crime Story, Psychological Suspense Story ,The Thriller Story, The Cozy Story. 

a) The detective Story: Edgar Allen Poe was the first one who started the detective Story sub genre. This is the sub genre that most people consider the “main” genre of a mystery. The detective Stories mostly include crime and the usual revealing of the culprit who was not thought of to be the culprit. It also includes fake clues and innocent people who are faulted. Some famous detectives from this genre is Miss. Marple, a detective by Agatha Christie and C/ Auguste Dupin of Edgar Allen Poe.

b) The Private Eye Story: The private eye story is nearly identical to the detective story. However, it includes a private investigator. This genre also deals with the “who done its”, crime, and murder.

c) The Hard-boiled Detective Story: The hard-boiled detective story came from America in the 20th century. Some famous authors of this genre is Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. This does not deal with detectives and deals with the police. This genre is mostly for men because it includes bad language and much violence and might be uncomfortable to read.

d) The Crime Story: This genre is very hard to define because there is a line between when a crime story becomes a mystery and when it isn’t included as a mystery. When the story is from the criminals point of view, it is considered not a mystery because you already know who the criminal is. A important point of the crime story is that they don’t exactly have the happiest of endings.

e) Psychological Suspense Story: psychological suspense causes chills when you are reading that particular story. The book is filled of fear and you as the plot develops the tension created becomes higher and higher. There is not a lot of Detecting and some might think that they are closer to the genre of horror than that of a mystery.

f) The Thriller Story: The thriller story is depicted differently in different countries. However, the main idea is that the story is very fast paced and very active which includes some kind of adventure. You can say that they are not really detectives and are Heroes and Heroines.

g) The Cozy Story: The Cozy story is the exact opposite of the Hard-boiled stories. This is more for the females because they don’t actually describe the moment of the murder or of violence strongly and it usually happens behind the scenes. A famous cozy writer is Agatha Christie.
4. Identify which genre you want to read, and include a description as to why.

If I was to pick which genre I would read, I would pick the cozy story or psychological suspense. First of all, I would pick the cozy story because I don’t like reading uncomfortable or violent things and if they had to happen I would like them to happen off camera so I don’t read it at the spot. cozy books seem to work for me because they seem to fit the female readers and seem to match their point of view. The second genre I chose was the psychological suspense because I like horror stories and I like getting chills. The reason why I like horror is because there is a major twist at the climax and it is interesting to read up until that point.

II. Works Cited

Works Cited

“Anatomy of a Mystery.” PublishersWeekly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20050418/22684-anatomy-of-a-mystery.html>.

N.d. Photograph. Biography. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.biography.com/imported/images/Biography/Images/Profiles/C/Agatha-Christie-9247405-1-402.jpg>.

N.d. Photograph. Mhpbooks. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://cdn.mhpbooks.com/uploads/2013/03/sherlock-holmes.jpg>.

N.d. Photograph. Wikimedia. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Edgar_Allan_Poe_portrait_B.jpg>.

Tapply, William G. The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing a Modern Whodunit. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen, 2004. N. pag. Print.