Mystery novels are a staple of the popular reading lists. Bookstore shelves prominently feature new titles and continuing series. But how did they get their start? The first mystery novel and thus the creation of a new genre was a short story about a detective by American writer Edgar Allen Poe in 1841. There are multiple subgenres of mystery/crime fiction novels. They can fall into four key categories: Detective Novels, Cozy Mysteries, Police Procedural, Caper Stories, or up to a more expansive list of twelve, as seen here (learn the differences between Hardboiled or Softboiled, Cozy or Domestic). It seems no matter the style, mystery novels will continue to be a favorite and ever-evolving genre. 

Take a quiz: what fictional detective are you


Most mystery novels follow the same outline. First, there is a crime. The detective (professional or amateur) works on solving the mystery by questioning suspects and searching for clues. An unexpected twist shocks them—and the reader—and leads to the last remaining piece of the puzzle to solve the mystery.

So now that you know a little more about the mystery genre…

Think you have what it takes to solve a mystery?

Top Mystery Authors Must Read Lists: 

BookRiot offers a Top 10 List with a controversial choice–can you define Harry Potter as a mystery? 

Town & Country gives you 15 Best Mystery Novels for Any Mood 

Get gritty with the 10 Best Crime Reads of the Past Decade 

You go girl! Try this list of 20 Must Read Novels by Female Mystery Authors 

Do it by the number and read the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Tim

A Scary Thought– try this list of 25 Best Thriller Books That Keep You Turning the Page 

GoodReads give us the Best Mysteries for Young Readers 

Stick with a Classic and read the 10 Best Sherlock Holmes Stories 

And if you like those here is a list of Top 50 books like Sherlock Holmes 

Ready to read? lets you search for books by Subject, Author, or Title

And finally, Just for Fun

Attend The Dinner Detective– a murder mystery dinner event with over 75 U.S. locations.  Or host your own party and Download a Night of Mystery for a revealing night in. Good luck solving the mystery before time runs out!