I've noticed a lot of "mystery/thriller" books are dressed up romances.  I actually like some of them.  What I wonder is this.  How do you characterize your own work?

Me:  Hard core noir mysteries.

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"Noir" has always seemed rather nebulous to me as a subgenre. I associate it with "dark" and "hard-boiled" suspense novels, mostly. (I believe that "noir" in French means "black.")

As for me, I've written two psychological thrillers, a crime and/or legal thriller, and am just wrapping up what I call a Gothic historical thriller. I try to use the categories that are most commonly used in the pub biz so that the categorization helps the most people.

I write a historical mystery series.  You could call it a detective series, or a crime series. Because it is set in Japan, it often also characterized as "exotic."


Since the subgenre "historical mystery" spans several other subgenres, let me add that my books are not cozies. They are character-driven, contain violence when appropriate, are not remotely romance, but may explore social and psychological topics.

Suspense romance books ... that's a leading indicator on amazon if you type in the search window. Then you can also use mystery and thriller with the same connections. ;) It's a very popular genre.


My Austin Carr series is called "screwball mystery."

My current novel is another mystery, the first in a potential series, though not humorous or "screwball." Not sure what the agent is calling it. I should ask.

I classify mine as mystery/thrillers written in a hard core style.  Don't know if that makes sense, but I think if you simply classify your stuff as mysteries it's possible readers might place you in the 'cozy' category. But does anyone have a firm definition of what exactly a 'thriller' means?   

Thrillers are supposed to be high-stakes suspense. Someone, usually your protagonist, is in danger the whole novel -- as opposed to a mystery in which the protag merely solves a crime and might face danger only at the end.

I once heard that the difference between a mystery and thriller is whether or not you know who the bad guy is.

I'll bet that works 95% of the time, but there are "open mysteries" in which the bad guy is known. Think Peter Falk's Columbo, for example.

I like stories like that; loved Columbo. I've done a couple of , where the villain is known by the halfway point. The book's goes on to describe what the protagonist is going to do about it. 

What Eric said, and ...

I just finished reading a Harlan Coban "thriller" whose main protag -- an ex-stripper -- was being chased and threatened the whole time (suspense-thriller) but we didn't know which possible villain (mystery) hired the professional bad guys to find and kill her. The ex-stripper had to solve the 20-year-old murder to stop the chasing. Guess it was a mystery/thriller combo, which he and others seem to do a lot.

Well, as an ex-stripper, I'll have to look that one up.

Seems to me a lot of stuff has a slash or hypen in the middle like that.

Doesn't it seem like trying to pigeonhole everything is a problem for writers and readers as well?

The only problem is trying to find books you like. Sometimes it helps to narrow things down. When I'm in the mood for ex-stripper murder-mystery-thrillers I don't want to have to look through hundreds of ex-stripper spy stories or ex-stripper romances...



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