Mysteries and thrillers…

The standard explanation of the difference between these two genres is perhaps familiar. A mystery is a story about a crime that’s committed and some sleuth(s), pro or amateur, figure how it was done and who did it, given clues, suspects, and witnesses. A thriller is a story about a villain or conspiracy that must be stopped; the reader generally knows who the bad guys (or gals) are planning the dirty deed.

Those words cover the standard explanation, but most readers know they’re often limited. First, the crime in the mystery might be perpetrated by a villain or conspiracy, and in the thriller the good guys (or gals) might have to stop the perps from doing some crime again.

That caveat is segue to number two: the two genres often merge or overlap, which is why books are often catalogued as “mystery, thriller, and suspense.” We can argue whether a book is a mystery or thriller, or whether it’s more mystery than thriller or vice versa (suspense describes both, of course). Genres are just labels designed for the convenience of book vendors who have to display their wares on shelves. (My new book Rembrandt’s Angel was found in the art section of one store, though, and maybe a reasonable mistake made by the vendor.) But both readers and writers have to realize the story is what’s important. Read the blurb and use “peek inside” to determine whether you’re interested in a book and forget about the genre classifications.

Third, nowadays there are many crossover stories. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Many sci-fi books are also thrillers, and some are even mysteries. For example. Asimov’s Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are sci-fi mysteries about human and android sleuths partnering up to solve two murder cases; they set the bar high for any sci-fi mystery. I enjoyed these stories as a young lad, which is one of the reasons why I write sci-fi, mysteries, and thrillers, sometimes mixing these genres in my storytelling. Sometimes the mix is subtle: Detectives Chen and Castilblanco use smartphones that have many special PDA and video capabilities not yet available, and they have to drive eco-friendly cars as members of a futuristic NYPD.

One main character in Soldiers of God, Caitlin Murphy, is a futuristic FBI agent trying to solve a vicious murder. It’s a standard mystery in the sense that it begins with this crime, but it also has thriller elements. Even The Midas Bomb, first book in my detective series, was set in the future when I wrote it (it now has a second edition, and 2014 has long passed). All books in the “Clones and Mutants Trilogy” can be considered sci-fi thrillers, but they also have mystery elements.

Readers should always focus on the stories, of course, and not so much on the genres. I’ve read stories classified as romances, but they are more classical mysteries, and vice versa. I never read bodice rippers (the cover, by the way, often represents the only clue I need!), but romance is a part of many people’s lives, so a mystery or thriller can certainly contain it. In fact, a crime might be committed because a romance fails, or there’s a romantic obsession of one character for another. Same for horror stories, although that’s moving a bit far afield in genre-space. My author-friend Scott Dyson wrote an excellent little horror story titled The Inn; it’s both horror and mystery. In fact, many horror stories are about serial killers who must be apprehended—The Silence of the Lambs is a classic example.

So, readers, when considering my books (or any other author’s), peruse the blurb and “peek inside” and don’t pay as much attention to genre as Amazon, Smashwords, or bookstores do. Even an elevator pitch on the Just Kindle newsletter or some other online catalog is more informative than genre classification these days.


Just posted: a new review of Rembrandt’s Angel. “a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability.

…Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great story line that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, “In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors” and “A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor. …the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector. She is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.

Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.”—Lynette Latzko, Feathered Quill Book Reviews

The full review can be found at Feathered Quill. To learn more about saucy Esther Brookstone, see Rembrandt’s Angel (Penmore Press), now available as an ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, and as a print book on Amazon, B&N,  or at your local bookstore through Ingram (ask for it if they don’t have it). Don’t miss it. It’s great summer reading.

In libris libertas!



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