The central plot of mystery fiction is that there is a crime to be solved. Suspects have motive and are ruled out by a detective (professional or amateur) using logical deduction.
Mystery or Thriller?
- Focus on solving the crime after it happens
- Protagonist must find out who the villain is
- Emphasis on the puzzle
- Focus on stopping a crime before it happens
- Protagonist knows the villain and must catch them
- Emphasis on the action
Death Comes to Pemberley / P. D. James (2011)
A murder occurs on the eve of a ball hosted by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice.
Death of an Honest Man / M. C. Beaton (2018)
A police sergeant tracks down the murderer of a man who was widely disliked due to his tactless honesty.
Depth of Winter / Craig Johnson (2018)
A man travels to the Mexican desert to rescue his kidnapped daughter from the head of a vicious drug cartel.
Dick Francis’s Refusal / Felix Francis (2013)
The chairman of the racing authority asks an investigator to look into some suspicious horse races.
Earthly Remains / Donna Leon (2017)
A Venetian detective visits a villa owned by a relative, but after a sudden storm, the caretaker of the house goes missing.
Force of Nature / C. J. Box (2012)
A man formerly of the Special Forces is targeted by the high-ranking government official who was once his commander.
The Gate Keeper / Charles Todd (2018)
A detective comes across a dead body and a woman with blood on her hands who swears she is innocent.
Maisie Dobbs / Jacqueline Winspear (2003)
A World War I nurse-turned-private investigator takes an infidelity case that becomes much deeper than expected.
Murder on the Orient Express / Agatha Christie (1934)
Detective Hercule Poirot must investigate thirteen suspects when a man is found dead aboard a train.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency / Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
The first (and only) lady detective in Botswana sets up shop and is hired to solve a variety of local mysteries.
Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss / Max Wirestone (2018)
A geek is hired by a suspicious lawyer to be the “Industry Spy” of a game development company.
Still Life / Louise Penny (2005)
A detective in Montreal investigates a suspicious death, believed by residents to be a hunting accident.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie / Alan Bradley (2009)
A quirky young girl in 1950s England is delighted when she finds a man dying in her family’s cucumber patch.
The Word is Murder / Anthony Horowitz (2017)
An editor reviewing a manuscript finds the last few chapters missing and the author mysteriously dead.