Friday, March 11, 2016

I was asked the other day to define a mystery and why some mysteries seem to be filled under fiction in libraries. Here is an easy key:
Mystery: something has happened and someone wants to find out the who, what, why, and how.
Suspense: something bad is going to happen, and someone is trying to stop it.
Thrillers: thrilling, scary things are happening all the time.
Mystery novels present a puzzle to be solved, thrillers are emotional roller coasters full of excitement and fear, and suspense novels have a tense situation which builds throughout the novel. Books about spies, the military, technology based, legal, and medical novels all tend to be thrillers and thus are usually placed in regular fiction. Today there is a whole range of books considered mystery. Chefs, private detectives, ghosts, housewives, teachers, pet store owners, librarians, medieval herbalists, Egyptologists – anyone can play detective in a mystery novel and try to solve, not just a murder, but any kind of puzzle (who stole the money from the charity, who broke into the store next door, who beat up my neighbor, and on it goes; and let’s not forget that “why” is very important)--something unexplained happened and the interested party is going to find an answer, find the truth. Suspense often lets the reader know more than the main character about the danger they are in and the book builds the tension. Thrillers are an exciting ride that go up and down throughout the book.
The truth is that there is a lot of overlap anymore. Mysteries are often thrilling and suspenseful. I don’t think it matters to most readers. If you like a mystery, you’ll probably like a good thriller and a good suspense novel. In England, all mystery novels are called thrillers. Let’s be honest humans love to categorize and when you do that you run into problems. The main thing is to be aware that books you might love can be in a “mystery” section in libraries or in regular fiction. Learn to look in the library’s catalog under subjects like “psychological suspense” or “medical thriller” and look through the stacks to see where various authors are placed in each library. That way you’ll have the opportunity to find even more books to keep you happy. Enjoy.
In the meantime, you are running out of time to read the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominees, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced inn2015. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at the 70th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2016 in New York City.
The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter
The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr
Life or Death by Michael Robotham
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Canary by Duane Swierczynski
Night Life by David C. Taylor

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Peter James won the Dagger Award “Diamond” category this year. James has written many books including a series about Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.
This year’s Agatha Awards will be presented April 20, 2016, the nominees include:
Best Contemporary Novel:
Bridges Burned, Annette Dashofy
Long Upon the Land, Margaret Maron
The Child Garden, Catriona McPherson
Nature of the Beast, Louise Penny
What You See, Hank Phillipi Ryan

Best Historical Novel:
Malice at the Palace, Rhys Bowen
The Masque of a Murderer, Susanna Calkins
Dreaming Spies, Laurie R. King
Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante, Susan Elia Macneal
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue, Victoria Thompson

Best First Novel:
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Tessa Arlen
Macdeath, Cindy Brown
Plantation Shudders, Ellen Byron
Just Killing Time, Julianne Holmes
On the Road with Del and Louise, Art Taylor