Thriller and mystery are of course high level genres, there are many sub-genres in both categories. For example Psychological Thriller or Cozy Mystery. There are lots more, so when considering Thriller vs Mystery in this post, I'm just looking at the broad, high level classification.
I'll share some definitions I've found then let's chat. Why do these genres to get so interchangeably used? Can a book be both a thriller and mystery at the same time?
A thriller is a fast-paced novel full of conflict, tension, suspense, unexpected twists, and high stakes. Every single scene and element in a thriller is meant to propel the action forward, test the characters, and take the readers on a roller coaster ride that will leave them on the edge of their seats.
The mystery genre is a genre of fiction that follows a crime (like a murder or a disappearance) from the moment it is committed to the moment it is solved. Mystery novels are often called “whodunnits” because they turn the reader into a detective trying to figure out the who, what, when, and how of a particular crime.
What is the difference between mystery, suspense, and thriller?
- Mystery is about the puzzle. Thriller is the push and pull between the protagonist and the villain. Suspense is about tension and what may happen. It can be present in any genre.
- Thriller: the protagonist is in danger from the outset. suspense: the main character may become aware of danger only gradually. In a mystery, the reader is exposed to the same information as the detective, but in a suspense story, the reader is aware of things unknown to the protagonist.
Now that you have the information, what do you think? Do you disagree with the perimeters for each? Have you confused these genres in the past? Does it even matter at all if the genres aren't clear or misrepresented?
Let's discuss in the comments below.