Story Beginnings: unravelling mystery books

Dreaming of writing a book, but aren't sure where to begin? Our Story Beginnings series explores the framework and key elements of writing genres and sub-genres, to help inspire you to craft a great story of your own.

Mystery books enable the protagonist and reader to piece together clues to solve a crime. The story typically begins with the crime, or the discovery of the crime, and concludes with the revealing and capture of the perpetrator.

The setting can be historical, genre based (noir, ethnic, urban), or modern. The story's themes, or the nature of the crime, can also explore cultural issues, such as prejudices against minority groups (including race, sexuality, class, gender, etc.). Crimes can be based in murder, theft, blackmail, framing, crime world, conspiracy or corruption.

The protagonist is almost always the investigator, though this individual can be anywhere on the spectrum between professional to amateur. Examples include: law enforcement officers, private detectives, reporters, investigators, criminal profilers, agents for government organizations, or some sort of field expert (such as a professor, art dealer, antiques collector) with an overactive sense of curiosity. Alternatively, they may also be an eccentric character related to the victim of the crime. Sometimes the protagonist can be implicated in the crime and 3 to reveal the truth or clear their name.

Curiosity, suspense and careful structure of plot are keys to making a successful mystery book.

Key Features: Some sort of crime, an investigator protagonist, a series of clues, some sort of red herring or twist to create suspense or false leads, a conclusion that ties up all loose ends.

Famous authors of mystery books: Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Lee Childs, Patricia Highsmith

Examples of mystery books: Sherlock Holmes series, The Da Vinci Code, Presumed Innocent.

Mystery books published by FriesenPress:

Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator