Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Genres

Genre is a classification of books or media by content and/or style that allows users to more easily identify the book. Subgenres are classifications within a genre that contain all the elements of a major genre as well as specific details that share particular features that make it similar to other books in the genre.

The Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Genres are very similar and can be confusing to users searching for books in a specific category. These genres share many similar features such as mystery themed plots, varying levels of suspense, and action.

Mystery Genre

The Mystery Genre must always feature a secret of some sort that requires people to figure out the truth based on clues, psychology, or some mix of the two. The tone of the novel may range from cozy to violent. Mystery or detective fiction books emphasize the puzzle aspect of the plot. There are clues and the reader should be able to determine the solution at about the same times as the main character.

Popular Mystery Authors:

  • Susan Wittig Albert
  • MC Beaton
  • Carolyn Hart
  • Tana French
  • Ed McBain

Suspense Genre

In suspense fiction books the compelling questions isn’t necessarily who did it but whether the villain will be caught before committing another crime. Suspense novels that involve in-depth analysis of the character are sometimes referred to as psychological suspense.

Popular Suspense Authors:

  • Jeffery Deaver
  • Alan Furst
  • Laurie R. King
  • Jonathon Kellerman
  • Laura Lippman
  • Lisa Unger
  • Scott Turow

Thriller Genre

Thriller fiction books are fast-moving, propelled by action, chase scenes, and violence, and frequently involve larger-scale villainy such as espionage, terrorism and conspiracy.

Popkular Thriller Authors:

  • Michael Connelly
  • Douglas J. Preston
  • Linda Fairstein
  • Michael Gruber
  • Perri O’Shaunessy
  • Lisa Scottoline

Genre descriptions drawn from: “What’s Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller Genre?” City of Olivia, MN; Public Library. Accessed March 28, 2012. <>

About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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4 Responses to Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Genres

  1. Some of these books just dont get the attention they deserve :-). I wish I had more time to read :-). The mystery of suspense | Jim Bronyaur, the blog is getting bookmarked for sure.

  2. Maggie Thom says:

    Reblogged this on Maggie Thom and commented:
    I’ve been asked several times what is the difference between Mystery, Suspense and Thrillers. I found this explanation on Short Librarian’s )Blog and loved what she had written so I wanted to share it. My books, Captured Lies, Tainted Waters and soon out, Deceitful Truths definitely fall under the suspense and thriller genres. What are your thoughts on the suggested differences between the three genres?

  3. Pingback: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Genres | Maggie Thom

  4. Maggie Thom says:

    Hi. Love your post. I tried leaving a message yesterday that I was reblogging this – it reblogged but I see didn’t keep my message. 🙂 I hope you’re okay with my reposting it?

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