Mystery Fiction

Maisie DobbsThe 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

Recommended Reading

Death Comes to PemberleyNo. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency / 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.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieMurder 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.

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