I've see a lot of so-called mysteries lately that really meant to be something else. Only about an hour ago, I discarded a book by a writer who came very highly recommended. It was a historical mystery set in ancient Egypt. This isn't really my field and I have no interest in Egypt, besides I rarely read historical mysteries (though I write them), but I did get this one because of the great praise for the author that I read on another site.

Here is what I found: First person narrative by a young female of royal blood who strays among the common folks during a Nile flood, gets swept away along with a crocodile, and saved at the last moment by a handsome and virile young courtier. At this point, I was disgusted and checked the end of the book. (Checking the end of a mystery for me always means death to the book.) Sure enough, there is a happy end: she is in love and marries. As it turns out, she marries another man, but apparently after a romantic relationship with her savior. This makes this book a romance, as far as I'm concerned. The fact that there might have been a mystery somewhere in the middle doesn't change the fact.

So here's my topic: given the fact that many authors seem to write in more than one genre at the same time to reach the largest possible readership, do you find this a good thing, or are you as disappointed as I was? Crossing between romance and mystery may be the most common example, but we also have mysteries linking to horror, secret agents, vampires, SF, fantasy, and other subgenres. 

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I prefer mysteries without crocodiles or too much romance.

In other words, I read mysteries primarily for the puzzle and the suspense. Of course an interesting setting, believable characters---which means some aspect of relationships---are necessary to carry the story. I'm not a fan of the romance novel, even when there's a mystery involved. 

Yes, I would be miffed to pick up a book that was called a  mystery and find out that it was in fact spy novel, or a romance, or heaven forbid a vampire tale or Sci Fi. But I suppose any of these things can be pulled off by a really good writer, and there is always a chance you'd be pleasantly surprised. But in general, when I pick up a mystery, that's what I want ! Crossovers should be billed as such, for those who do like them. 

Would you place  Karin Fossum in this category?   She does have a detective, but her novels are---by her own admission---not your standard mystery. Still, I have liked the ones I've read. Studies of society in microcosm? But certainly not romance, horror or sci fi.

 

No, I thought Fossum straighforward crime novel.  I like the British term because it includes such novels as Fossum's. Her interest is in the men and women in her society, their interactions and psychology. That enriches a mystery novel and brings it bit closer to litfic without crossing the line. I tend to aim that way myself sometimes. I think it's a matter of degree of importance assigned to the "other" genre.

I read Cotterill's books, for example, even though his protagonist has supernatural links to the spirit world. Mostly, the books still remain mysteries solved by clues and investigation.

Personally I really hate the mystery/detective and paranormal crossover that everybody adores these days. Just reading a back cover and finding that the detective is a shapeshifter, or there's a demon involved somewhere makes me chuck the book across the room in disgust.

But that's just me. I know what I (don't) like! :-)

It play havoc with the detective as the hero, too. There's nothing admirable about using supernatural powers to solve a case.

That's "plays", of course.

I know common wisdom is to write in more than one genre so you can make more sales, but I don't do it.  Maybe some day.  Right now I find it enough of a challenge to attempt to master the couple of sub-genres in the mystery field which I enjoy.

I enjoy straight crime fiction, but find a genre mix can be fun, perhaps better with a primary and secondary emphasis. Don't know if anyone is watching Almost Human. It's primarily a cop show--but the futuristic setting and technology are certainly a big part of it. The stories are about the latest investigation or mystery, with SF elements entwined.

Not watching.  I'm afraid SF always gives me the giggles. I used to read a lot of SF for writer friends, all competent writers and most published, but I just had a hard time with the ease with which characters hopped into space craft, travelled for many light years, and dealt with odd creatures. I did read one mystery set in a futuristic city in space. It was rather well done and didn't stretch my believability too far.

I think the key is to be very clear on what type of story you are telling. From your example I.J. that was clearly a romance story and to bill it as mystery will mislead buyers and create angry readers (as it did you). Something I think a writer should avoid.

I agree with you Richard, adding SF or fantasy elements can be fun. Though I find this is done better in TV/movies than in books. I enjoy ALMOST HUMAN. I also enjoyed ANGEL for the same reason. But then I enjoy crime thrillers better than I do straight mysteries.

I like the TV show ALMOST HUMAN. And I don't think military/police robots are far enough in the future to make IJ laugh. On the show, they handle the bad guys with ease but never over react. Not in my lifetime, but someday ... you KNOW it's coming. Probably from above. flying drone police. I put this part in to work Jed up. :)

Well if Jeff Bezos and Amazon can deliver books by drone, no reason the police can't patrol by drone and swoop in with AI police androids to stop the bad guys. A Brave new wold for sure.

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