As I've met fans and autographed their copies of my new romantic suspense, some have told me that they don't understand the difference between a mystery and a suspense novel. I thought today I'd explain how I look at the genres.
Mystery novels come in many forms: cozy, detective (amateur and private), police procedural, thriller, and--the one I enjoy the most--romantic suspense.
Thrillers and romantic suspense are listed as mysteries, but they are different. What they have in common with a mystery is the plot drives the story, the crime is significant, the murderer is introduced early in the book (though the reader doesn't know his/her true identity), a number of suspects must be uncovered, and all red herrings must be dealt with by the end of the novel (there can be no loose ends).
However in thrillers and suspense novels, the reader may find out the identity of the murderer early in the novel, but what keeps them reading is how tension builds as the main characters struggle through dangerous and life-threatening situations before they put things together and learn who the murderer is as well.
Readers are drawn to these stories because they are invested in the main characters and seeing how they will survive. So while romantic suspense and mystery novels are similar, they are different.
I'm curious. What is your favorite mystery novel and why?