Murder Mystery

Crime fiction is the genre of fiction that deals with crimes, their detection, criminals and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred. It has several sub-genres, including detective fiction (including the whodunnit), legal thriller, courtroom drama and hard-boiled fiction.

A whodunit or whodunnit (for "Who done it?") is a complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the puzzle is the main feature of interest. The reader is provided with clues from which the identity of the perpetrator of the crime may be deduced before the solution is revealed in the final pages of the book. The investigation is usually conducted by an eccentric amateur or semi-professional detective. The locked-room mystery is a specialized kind of a whodunit.

The "whodunit" flourished during the so-called "Golden Age" of detective fiction, during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, when it was the predominant mode of crime writing. Many of the best writers of whodunits in this period were British — notably Agatha Christie, Nicholas Blake, Christianna Brand and Edmund Crispin, Michael Innes, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey. Others — S. S. Van Dine, John Dickson Carr, and Ellery Queen — were American, but imitated the "English" style. Still others, such as Rex Stout, Clayton Rawson, and Earl Derr Biggers, attempted a more "American" style.

Over time, certain conventions and clichés developed that limited any surprises on the part of the reader to the details of the plot and of course to the identity of the murderer. Several authors excelled, after misleading their readers successfully, in revealing to them convincingly an unlikely suspect as the real villain of the story. What is more, they had a predilection for certain casts of characters and settings, with the secluded English country house at the top of the list.

A U.S. reaction to the cozy conventionality of British murder mysteries was the American "hard-boiled" school of crime writing of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Mickey Spillane, among others.

Psychological thriller is a specific sub-genre of the wide-ranging thriller genre. However, this genre often incorporates elements from the mystery genre in addition to the typical traits of the thriller genre.

Generally, thrillers focus on plot over character, and thus emphasize intense, physical action over the character's psyche. Psychological thrillers tend to reverse this formula to a certain degree, emphasizing the characters just as much, if not more so, than the plot.

The suspense created by psychological thrillers often comes from two or more characters preying upon one another's minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other's mental state.

Sometimes the suspense comes from within one solitary character where characters must resolve conflicts with their own minds. Usually, this conflict is an effort to understand something that has happened to them. These conflicts are made more vivid with physical expressions of the conflict in the means of either physical manifestations, or physical torsions of the characters at play.

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