Literary mystery definition. Examples of mystery stories.

Mystery stories are a popular genre of fiction. They can be suspenseful or intriguing, and they often involve a crime or unexplained phenomenon.

Literary mystery definition
Literary mystery definition

And this article Tintota.com will help you answer the question of Literary mystery definition.

  • Literary mystery novels
  • Example of mystery movie
  • Short story literary definition
  • Examples of mystery stories
  • Example of mystery genre
  • Examples of mystery movies
  • Unsolved literary mysteries
  • Myth literary definition

What is Mystery?

Mystery (pronounced mis-tuh-ree) is a literary genre in which tales revolve on a perplexing crime, scenario, or circumstance that must be solved. The phrase is derived from the Latin mysterium, which means “a hidden thing.”

Stories may be fictitious or nonfictional, and can include both supernatural and non-supernatural subjects. Many mystery tales contain a “whodunit” situation, which means that the mystery centers around the discovery of a culprit or criminal.

The Mystery's History
The Mystery’s History

The Mystery’s History

We’ve been writing about crime and punishment for as long as humans have been writing — rules to govern societies and myths to instruct our values. Euripides, a Greek tragedian, addresses the importance of murder in his play Orestes (408 BC). Orestes is sentenced to death after murdering his own mother on the counsel of the god Apollo.

Orestes’ efforts to avoid execution put men’s free choice against the ultimate authority of gods. The question here is whether politicians will apprehend Orestes or if the gods will defend him. The response might tilt the balance of power, with far-reaching effects.

More than 2,200 years later, Edgar Allan Poe’s short tale “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) is regarded as the canonical start of the Mystery genre in fiction. C. Auguste Dupin, the first literary detective, investigates a brutal double murder by gathering clues and questioning witnesses – skills that inspire every mystery that follows.

The Moonstone (1868), by Wilkie Collins, is the first detective book. When a valuable Indian diamond is stolen, suspects are quickly identified and an inquiry is launched. The question isn’t so much who took it as it is how the crime was committed.

With his fictitious icon Detective Monsieur Lecoq, Émile Gaboriau becomes an early pioneer of the detective book in 1866 France. The character is based on a genuine person — a criminal who became a cop and began solving crimes he would have committed in the past.

In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduces readers to Sherlock Holmes and his essential sidekick, Dr. Watson, in A Study in Scarlet. Holmes is one-of-a-kind in that he is quirky, difficult to deal with, and admits to having a drug problem. However, his personality flaws pale in comparison to his brilliant abilities of deduction, understanding of forensics, talents with disguise, and ability to win a fist fight. Since then, no fictional detective has been more imitated or revered.

For the blockbuster writers who debuted during the 1920s and 1930s, the 1920s and 1930s are called the Golden Age of Mystery. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) by Agatha Christie introduces the world to an investigator second only to Sherlock Holmes: Detective Hercule Poirot. Dorothy L. Sayers quickly follows with another legendary investigator, Lord Peter Wimsey, in Whose Body? (1923).

The hardboiled mystery erupts on the scene in the United States in 1920, when H. L. Mencken creates Black Mask magazine, publishing serial pieces by previously unknown pulp fiction authors and establishing their careers. Enter Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and hundreds of other street-smart detectives battling organized crime leaders and corrupt police agencies in their cynical efforts to find justice in a harsh world.

The mystery genre is so popular in the Golden Age that it even makes its way into children’s literature. The Hardy Boys (1927) and Nancy Drew (1930) introduce a new generation of readers to the thrills of amateur detective, assuring the appeal of mysteries for years to come.

Today, the mystery genre is still a staple of the publishing business, and readers can always find a decent mystery on any bestseller list.

Mysteries of Various Types
Mysteries of Various Types

Mysteries of Various Types

The mystery genre is vast, with several subgenres (and sub-subgenres) within it. Here are the most important ones.

Detective Fiction

The genre with which everyone most closely associates mysteries. This vast sub-genre includes detectives like as James Patterson’s Michael Bennett, professionals such as Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, and amateur sleuths such as Nancy Drew, who delve into evidence to solve a mystery.

Thrillers

More plot-driven, action-packed, and filled with heart-stopping moments than other types of mysteries. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a psychological thriller that follows a psychotherapist down a twisted rabbit hole as he attempts to figure out why his renowned artist patient, who refuses to talk, murdered her spouse in a most terrible manner.

True Crime

This has been popular for many years, mainly to the dramatic reporting of crimes and their aftermath in newspapers. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, released in 1966, standardized the storytelling style that is so prevalent today. True Crime, like Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, is inspired by a true-life mystery.

Cozy or Domestic Mysteries

They often solved by amateur sleuths, and the murders take place off the page, making them significantly less nasty. Unexpected characters, such as Koko the cat in Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, aid in the investigation of murders. Bookshelves, libraries, and bakeries, among other familiar locales, play an important role.

Supernatural or Paranormal Mysteries

Look into the apparition of ghosts, UFOs, or other inexplicable phenomena. Detective Devine in Jess Kidd’s Things In Jars must discover a lost girl with extraordinary abilities before others kidnap and sell her.

Historical Riddles

This is stories that bring the past and its mysteries to life. The first novel in Ellis Peters’ much-loved Cadfael Chronicles series, A Morbid Taste for Bones, follows a Welsh Benedictine monk in the 12th century as he seeks to investigate a murder linked to sacred relics.

Heists and capers

They entertaining to read since they are usually always described from the criminal’s point of view. The Hot Rock, a thrilling heist classic by Donald Westlake, follows a group of inexperienced but determined emerald thieves.

Mystery Exemplification
Mystery Exemplification

Mystery Exemplification

Take a look at the following brief passage:

I looked down at the deceased, whose face was hidden under a ski mask. A large sum of money was found next to the deceased. I’d never seen such a large quantity of money before. A message was attached to the corpse. I ripped it from the dead man’s jacket and read it carefully, over and over, trying to absorb its words: Get rid of this and the money is yours—I’ll deliver the other half once the task is over. Regards, F. What happened next would be something I would come to regret for the rest of my life.

The preceding chapter establishes a strange setting for the viewer to follow. It starts with a crime—a murder—and concludes with an unsettling foreshadowing to the spectator. However, the chapter does not explain what the narrator decided to do and afterwards regretted. A novel based on this chapter would most likely finish with the murder solved and the actual circumstances of the narrator’s choice revealed.

Pop Culture Examples of Mysteries
Pop Culture Examples of Mysteries

Pop Culture Examples of Mysteries

Example No. 1

Pretty Little Liars is a famous series of juvenile mystery fiction books and television series that chronicles the mystery of the disappearance of a young girl called Alison as seen through the eyes of her friends, who were allegedly the last people to ever see her. The following is a promotional video for the TV show’s pilot episode:

Episode 1 Extended Promo – Pretty Little Liars
By beginning the series on the night Alison went missing, the creators instantly establish the story as a mystery. Later, the viewer learns that Alison was proclaimed dead when her corpse was discovered, but the mystery persists as her friends get letters and threats regarding personal matters that are always signed “A.” The whole series revolves on the mystery of A’s identity as well as the events surrounding Alison’s disappearance and death, as well as the chance that she is still alive.

Example No. 2

Unsolved Mysteries, a factual mystery television series, has been entertaining audiences with accounts of inexplicable happenings and murders in the United States for for two decades. True tales of mysteries of all kinds—crime, murder, UFOs, missing individuals, separated family members or friends, ghost stories, and so on—were included, as reported by actual witnesses, historians, investigators, and so on.

Trailer for the 1987 television series Unsolved Mysteries
Because of its popularity and ability to reach the general public, the show was also known for occasionally assisting in the resolution of crimes and mysteries—after episodes aired, viewers would occasionally contact the show with information that assisted in the resolution of a crime, the discovery of a missing person, or the reunification of people who had been separated. Unsolved Mysteries would share similar success stories in following episodes, often informing the audience weeks, months, even years after a tale aired.

Literary Examples of Mysteries
Literary Examples of Mysteries

Literary Examples of Mysteries

Example #1: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue

I quickly saw that he has a unique thinking ability. It gave him a lot of joy to use. With a calm and quiet chuckle, he once told me that most men had windows over their hearts through which he could look into their souls. Then he stunned me by telling me what he knew about my soul, and I discovered that he knew things about me that only I could possibly know. At these times, his demeanor was chilly and aloof. His eyes were vacant and distant, and his voice was high and tense. At times, it seemed to me that I was seeing not one, but two Dupins — one who coldly put things together and another who coldly pulled them apart.

This mystery chapter is in Edgar Allen Poe’s mystery narrative “The Murders of the Rue Morgue.” The mystery of this text resides in the speaker’s or narrator’s claim that the person he is discussing has informed him that he understands the secrets of their hearts. He has revealed it to the speaker by revealing his secrets. The narrator’s description of the individual and his abilities creates a somewhat mysterious atmosphere, making “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” a mystery narrative.

Example #2: Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White

I met my Italian buddy for the first time in a lovely place where he taught his native language and I taught art. All I knew about his life at the time was that he had once held a position at the University of Padua; that he had left Italy for political reasons (the nature of which he consistently refused to discuss with anyone); and that he had been a respectably established language teacher in London for many years.

Although this chapter happens in the framework of the book The Woman in White, the simple description of the Italian companion adds validity to the story’s mystery. The narrator’s description of his teaching assignment, his status at university, and his political opinions indicate that the narrator wishes to build mystery about the figure in question.

Example #3: Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hounds of Baskervilles

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was normally quite late in the mornings, unless he had been up all night, was sat at the breakfast table. I stepped onto the hearth rug and took up the stick that our guest had left there the night before. It was a beautiful, thick piece of wood with a bulbous head, of the kind known as a “Penang lawyer.” A large silver ring over an inch wide adorned the underside of the skull. The inscription “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.” was engraved on it, along with the year “1884.” It was precisely like the old-fashioned family practitioner’s stick—dignified, substantial, and comforting.

This paragraph appears in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned book, The Hounds of Baskerville. The plot centres on a manor in which a dog seems to have sparked terror among the occupants and new captives. However, Sherlock Holmes, as usual, solves the problem by apprehending the suspect after sending his deputy to investigate the circumstances and remaining in the background. This section depicts the resolve of how Holmes builds mystery when he enters the plot.

Example #4: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a good example.

It was very cold, and Lieutenant Dubosc’s position of escorting a prominent foreigner was not one to be admired, but he did his job well. In exquisite French, he spoke graceful words. He had no idea what it was all about. Of course, there had been rumors, as there often were in such circumstances. The General’s—his General’s—temper had deteriorated. Then there was this Belgian stranger who appeared to have traveled all the way from England. There had been a week of strange tenacity. And then certain events occurred. A senior commander had committed suicide, another had abruptly resigned, apprehensive faces had vanished, and some military measures had been loosened. And the General, Lieutenant Dubosc’s personal General, seemed to be 10 years younger.

This chapter from Murder on the Orient Express depicts Lieutenant Dubosc’s strange performance of his responsibilities. The setting, the actions of characters such as the General and Lieutenant, and the string of suicides have all contributed to the story’s quality in terms of strange circumstances. Even in this little sentence, practically all of the components of mystery are present.

Mystery's Functions
Mystery’s Functions

Mystery’s Functions

A mystery novel develops tension, making readers want to read on to find out what happens next. Mysteries outperform other tales in virtually all of these areas. As the examples illustrate, their primary goal is to amuse the readers, to make the readers aware of the writer’s talents, and to allow them to release their pent-up emotions via the passive activity of reading.

6 Points to Consider When Writing a Mystery Novel
6 Points to Consider When Writing a Mystery Novel

6 Points to Consider When Writing a Mystery Novel

Whether this is your first time writing a mystery book or short tale, or you’re merely wanting to improve your mystery-writing abilities, there are a few things to keep in mind while you write:

Begin with an enticing hook.

The opening paragraph—or, better yet, the first sentence—of a mystery book draws the reader in. Immediately pique a reader’s attention and leave them wanting more.

Create a mysterious atmosphere.

Even the most stunning story surprise will fall flat if the correct tone is not there. Creating a fascinating atmosphere that quickly immerses your readers in the universe of your work. A gloomy environment, such as an abandoned building or an isolated cottage in the woods, detailed language of the terrifying aspects of the case, and intriguing conversation will immerse your readers in the drama and keep them reading.

Slowly reveal knowledge.

Consider how your reader will respond to how you pace your narration as you write. Create suspense by regulating how much information you provide, as well as how and when you release it. Every mystery book has a core plot, but it’s generally constructed around smaller moments that keep the reader’s attention throughout. Find out more about building suspense in writing by clicking here.

Leave a trail of evidence.

Allow the reader to feel as though they are a part of the tale. Drop hints throughout the narrative that allow people to have an active role in uncovering the mystery. They shouldn’t be too apparent, but uncovering them and considering the various explanations should be intriguing and enjoyable for the reader.

Make a few red herrings available.

The finest mysteries are those that readers are unable to solve straight away. Distract the reader’s attention with untrue information about persons, locations, and items, and lead them astray with contradictory data. When they ultimately discover the truth, they will be content with the trip that brought them there. Learn more about red herrings in our in-depth guide.

Finish up any loose ends.

Cliffhangers aren’t usually used at the conclusion of mystery books. You must either solve the crime, explain the inexplicable absence, or identify the perpetrator. Your ending does not have to be joyful, but it should explain all of the reader’s unanswered concerns about what occurred and what the event implies for all of the people involved.

Learning how to write a decent mystery requires time and patience, whether you’re doing it as an aesthetic exercise or attempting to gain the attention of publishing firms. Dan Brown, the famed author of The Da Vinci Code and master of suspense, has spent decades developing his art. Dan discusses his step-by-step approach for converting ideas into captivating tales in his MasterClass on the art of the thriller, as well as his strategies for researching like a pro, building characters, and maintaining suspense all the way to a dramatic surprise conclusion.

F.A.Q

What is the definition of mystery in literature?

A mystery in literature is a story that withholds information until the end, typically leading the reader to ask “Who done it?” or “What happened?” In order for a story to be classified as a mystery, it must have one of three elements: a crime, a solution, or a mystery.

A crime may be something as simple as theft or murder, while a solution may be something as complex as unveiling the identity of the killer. A mystery is simply when there is still some unknown information at the end of the story that needs to be figured out.

Is mystery a literary genre?

Mystery literature is a genre of fiction that typically involves a crime or mystery to be solved. The genre can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where plays and novels often involved clever detective work.

In the Middle Ages, mystery stories were typically about supernatural events. However, the modern mystery story emerged in the 18th century with the development of detective fiction.

What is an example of a mystery?

A mystery is a story with a solution that is not revealed until the end. A mystery can be a short story, novel, or movie. Some examples of mystery stories are The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

What is the greatest literary mystery?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on individual preferences. However, some of the most well-known literary mysteries include The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. These novels are all based on intricate plots and characters that leave readers guessing until the very end.

Conclusion

Mystery stories are a great way to relax and be entertained. They offer something for everyone, from crime dramas to cozy mysteries.

  • Literary mystery novels
  • Example of mystery movie
  • Short story literary definition
  • Examples of mystery stories
  • Example of mystery genre
  • Examples of mystery movies
  • Unsolved literary mysteries
  • Myth literary definition

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