Mystery Fiction vs Detective Fiction

Mystery Fiction vs Detective Fiction

According to Encyclopedia the difference between mystery and detective fiction is mystery books require hidden secrets, which over the course of the text are revealed or discovered. Detective fiction is related in that it too narrates the investigation and solution of a crime, but with one important addition – the detective is involved.

Let’s look at both genres and see if we can unearth some differences.

What defines the mystery genre?

Sometimes referred to as detective or crime novels, the mystery genre is a type of fiction in which a detective, or other professional, solves a crime or series of crimes. It can take the form of a novel or short story.

What’s the difference between mystery fiction and nonfiction mysteries?

A major difference between fiction and nonfiction mysteries is that fiction mysteries almost always end with the mystery being solved, while nonfiction mysteries typically exist to address mysteries that remain unsolved.

The 5 ‘must have’ ingredients of a mystery

A mystery is a story that has five basic but important elements. These five components are:

  1. the characters,
  2. the setting,
  3. the plot,
  4. the problem, and t
  5. he solution. …

The main character determines the way the plot or mystery will develop and is usually the person who will solve the problem the story centers upon.

What makes a good mystery?

A story that actively engages readers in solving the mystery (or in trying to piece together the narrative threads) needs at least 7 elements:
  • A strong hook.
  • Active reader involvement in piecing together information.
  • Red herrings.
  • Suspenseful dialogue.
  • Effective, descriptive mood and language.
  • Well-structured chapters.

What is detective fiction?

Detective fiction is a genre of writing where a detective works to solve a crime. The audience is challenged to solve the crime by the clues provided before the detective reveals the answer at the end of the novel.

What’s needed in a detective story?

The traditional elements of the detective story are:

(1) the seemingly perfect crime;

(2) the wrongly accused suspect at whom circumstantial evidence points;

(3) the bungling of dim-witted police;

(4) the greater powers of observation and superior mind of the detective; and

(5) the startling and unexpected development

What is a conventional detective story?

  • a rational and intelligent detective
  • a companion for the detective (usually less intelligent than the detective)
  • a mystery – sometimes involving murder
  • clues to the solution which the reader can enjoy as a puzzle
  • build-up of tension
  • a satisfactory resolution in which the mystery is solved

Is detective fiction still popular?

Sure is and here’s why:

  1. People love solve crimes. It keeps their brains active.
  2. Our memories are strengthened. We need to recall lots of incidents throughout the book in
    order to solve the crime. Some of these incidents seemed insignificant at the time but they are
    important to arrive at the right conclusion.
  3. Detective novels involve readers in the story. Most readers see themselves as the hero.
  4. The story usually moves with speed. Readers like to go on a journey rather than be bogged down
    with a heavy novel.


A detective is a crucial part in solving a crime. Mysteries don’t always involve a detective and may  rely on amateur sleuths to solve the case.

The two genres are intertwined with detective fiction being a sub-genre of mystery. Other popular sub-genre’s include cozy mystery, international mystery, noir, police procedural, women sleuths and traditional detectives.

Readers typically read both categories