Mysteries are best in the first or third omniscient voice?

In my reading group, there has developed a school of thought that claims that the best ever mysteries are in the first voice, private PI type thingy. Personally, I go with PD James, Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie,  Their Third voice omniscient has produce far more intriguing plots than any other. I also think the best Thrillers and suspense novels are in the third voice, Silence of the Lambs, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Frankenstein, and the like. This may be a matter or preference, but I am sensing there is something to it. What do you think?

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First person lends some immediacy and is useful for PI novels.

My preference is for third person limited, because that gives me flexibility while still making it possible to get into a character's head.

Omniscient isn't terribly appealing to me because of the distance between reader and characters.

In a general comment, the book and what it hopes to accomplich should set the choice of POV.
I. J. said: My preference is for third person limited, because that gives me flexibility while still making it possible to get into a character's head.

As a reader, I really don't care what voice is used --if the author is skilled---although I probably do lean towards third person. Writers like Elizabeth George, for instance, use third person to give the reader glimpses into a number of different characters---omitting just enough so the reader is kept guessing. This is an effective way to build suspense, I think. So it's probably the most useful and flexible (as I.J. puts it) technique for a writer.

But the early Patricia Cornwell books were told in the first person, by Kay Scarpetta herself as I recall, and I actually liked them better than the later ones, where Cornwell seems to have distanced herself from the character to tell the story in the third person. Maybe it's because by then her stories were beginning to lose momentum. First person has its limitations, but it's the most direct, and puts the reader on a par with the protagonist---the reader only "knows" as much as the narrator.
Except in "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" ....:)

Seems like the biggest danger of third person is when the author wanders into (and details) the personal lives and histories of both primary and secondary characters at the expense of the forward movement of the plot. Then the reader gets bogged down. I'm not saying anyone here is guilty of that! :)
I think you want to be careful about conflating voice and point of view. Two different things, although both are very, very important to the feel of the finished book.
Doyle wrote primarily in first person (from the point of view of Dr. Watson).
Watson in a way was Doyle and we can argue that as such, he wrote in the third person "present"
Except that that argument would be wrong. Watson is a fictional character, a cleverly crafted sidekick for Holmes who is very different in philosophy and temperament from Doyle (or what we know about Doyle, anyway). Doyle probably modeled Watson loosely after the unnamed companion of C. Auguste Dupin in Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue. Watson was a hard-nosed rationalist and a man of science, while Doyle became a follower of Spiritualism, and one of the chief proponents of the infamous Cottingley Fairies, a fraud for which Watson would never have fallen. Also, pretty much all of Holmes is written in past tense, except for the occasional brief introductory passage. Using Watson as a first person voice is the perfect choice, because it humanizes the stories--Holmes being a very distant, otherworldly character--and makes them much more intimate for the reader.
Hah, yes! And it explains to some extent my intense dislike for Holmes. The thought that Watson took the ultimate revenge is amusing.
Holmes himself seems to me modeled after Dupin--admirable, maybe, but not likable. We need the garrulous Watson to tell the story. I never liked Holmes much, either, but I do like the stories.
I agree Jon, Yes the stories are good though a little winding, and in the end, sometimes I am left confused not understanding the string of thoughts.

And by the way Jon I looked your book up on Baker and Taylor's Publisher Alley

High Season Minotaur Books
By: Loomis, Jon Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General
book price $23.95 units sold 2,727 total $65,311.65

List Price Units Sold Net Sales
Price $6.99 710 $4,962.90
For what period, Benoit? I don't have a password.
Maybe send me any additional info in an email, instead of posting it here--it's proprietary, after all.
Those are all time numbers. No, those numbers are not proprietary, anyone who pays an annual fee has access to that information.


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