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Mysteries And Subgenres

     Although mystery is its own genre, mystery can also be found in a number of other genres as well. There is no concrete list of subgenres in mystery and elements of mystery can be added to nearly any novel, short story, poem, or movie script. Below is a basic list of what these subgenres may look like.

Tea Cozy
A tea cozy or "Cozy" mystery is a mystery with a light tone and elements of humor. The sleuth probably doesn't have any kind of medical or police training. The sleuth may, however, be accompanied by an official detective who may or may not approve of the civilian sleuth nosing around. Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple is the world's most famous tea cozy sleuth. In the United States, Jessica Fletcher is the American version of Miss Marple. They are both elderly ladies, who live in small towns and happen to come across sex and murder scandals. Each of them has a light sense of humor.

A caper is a character or group of characters who have committed an elaborate crime. Sometimes it is the theft of a valuable, heavily guarded painting or a bank heist. Capers can range from being comedic to noir.

Police Procedural
A police procedural mystery features a protagonist that is a police officer. He or she may not be high ranking and possibly viewed by other officers as a bumbling oaf. Something tips this police officer off and so he or she uses police records and follows police procedures to solve or prevent a crime.

Sam Spade is one of the most famous P.I. mystery solvers in the world. A P.I. mystery involves a protagonist that is hired as a private investigator to solve a crime. The movie Chinatown is a P.I. mystery featuring Gittes played by Jack Nicholson. A P.I. is usually looked down on by officers and many times one or more of the officers tend to be the villain or working for the villain. P.I.'s are best known in noir stories.

A mystery that takes place at some point in the past, either an alternate past or a true past, is a historical mystery. Many times, historical mysteries are also tea cozies, but not necessarily always. Consider Sherlock Holmes, for example.

Legal mysteries take place in the courtroom. The protagonist is a lawyer and must prove that his or her client is not only "not guilty," of the crime, but truly innocent. By the end of the story, the real killer is revealed in the courtroom. All the evidence acquired by the lawyer and the client are obtained legally through proper procedures. Elle Woods played by Reece Witherspoon in the movie, Legally Blonde, is an example of a legal mystery.

The only thing that really separates suspense novels and mystery novels is the elements of romance. Sexual encounters are usually erotic. Like many other genres and subgenres, the story could take place in ancient times, like in historical mysteries. It could take place in outer space, like science fiction mysteries. It could take place in middle earth or even involve ghosts or paranormal creatures. If the mystery contains strong sexual encounters, especially erotic, then it is considered a suspense mystery.

Anthropologists, medical examiners, morticians and other characters in the medical field is the cast in this subgenre of mysteries. The tactics used to obtain the information about the crime (usually murder) is partially based off accurate science, however, much of it is from the writer's imagination. Shows like CSI use a strong forensic influence, although the information and strategy isn't always true-to-life.

The damsel in distress isn't just for the fantasy and adventure fanatics. A beautiful woman is being stalked by a mysterious figure, threatening phone calls late at night and possibly even kidnapped. It's up to the hero, the knight in shinning armor, to save the damsel in distress.

Paranormal mysteries have their own set of subgenres. There can be witches, witch doctors, voodoo priests and priestesses, werewolves, ghosts, vampires, sirens and pretty much anything else considered beyond the Earthly realms. Futuristic crime solvers may be the sleuths. There may also be elements of horror in this subgenre. Ghostly girls who crawl out of wells, an orphan haunted by a vengeful nurse; paranormal horror and mystery tend to go hand-in-hand. What separates them is the conclusion. In horror, it's not uncommon for the main character to die a rather violent and gruesome death-even though the mystery is solved. Where as in mysteries, once the problem is solved, the killer gets what's coming to them.

The protagonist in thrillers are usually desperate characters. Most often men, but that's not always the case. There is usually high-tech gadgets involved, a high body count, action sequences, explosions and maybe even a touch of romantic sub plot. But not very much because the reader just wants to see the characters die in high-tech gruesome ways.

Horror any mystery, as stated above go hand-in-hand sometimes. Scream for example falls into both categories because not only does it have the high blood & body count of a horror, but there is the paranoia and mystery behind who is stalking them one-by-one. There are clues and pieces of puzzles that the character Sydney Prescott puts together, and although she doesn't solve the mystery by the end, the killer outs himself and everyone lives happily ever after. With the obvious exception of course, of the dead bodies... and until the sequel.

There are "jump" scenes that the views will literally jump out of their seats, and there are eerie scenes when Sydney knows she's being watched. This combination of suspense, intrigue, mystery and gruesome deaths makes horror and mystery a nerve-wracking story.

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Posted on 2013-08-06, By: *

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