The next Max Strong, TROUBLE WILL FIND ME, is currently out with beta-readers and will be published next month. I’m excited for the rest of you to soon get a chance to read Max’s latest adventure.
While the first three Max’s were more straight thrillers, I’ve found myself almost apologizing (writers – such insecure creatures) that this latest is less thriller and more mystery but blends elements of both genres. Someone finally asked me what the hell I meant. Fair question. I probably spend more time than most thinking about these things.
The Murder Mystery
A mystery novel is part of the crime genre where the primary purpose of the plot is to discover the murderer. The book kicks off with the crime and/or the discovery of the body. The rest of the plot is driven by the means to discover who was responsible.
There are many, many conventions to the mystery novel with the most prominent being red herrings, a smart killer, many police or detective interviews, lots of secrets and suspects and an investigator or team of investigators that has to overcome some additional obstacle (usually personal or internal) to ultimately bring the criminal to justice.
The thriller can take many forms and blend a number of different genres but typically involves key pieces and themes from crime, action, and horror. The best thrillers explore the life and death themes inherent in action and horror and place them over the tableau of the everyday inherent in crime novels.
This blending of genre allows the thriller to be a bit more adaptable than the mystery novel and able to take on a wider variety of themes (hint: this often why books are marketed as “literary thrillers”).
The thriller conventions include a heroic protagonist, a compelling antagonist, action set pieces, a secondary, internal “B” story (similar to the additional conflict the detective must sort out in the mystery).Why is any of this important? Whether you realize it or not, each genre or sub-genre has certain conventions and expectations and readers have an innate sense when something is working or not. A satisfying story will scratch all those itches. An unsatisfying one? The reader may not be able to tell you why they didn’t like it but odds it will come down to the story set certain expectations but then didn’t pay them off.
I may have blended a couple different genres but I think the end result tells a gratifying story but ultimately, you the readers, will be the judge.