Definition of the Mystery Literary Genre

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Mystery is a genre of fiction in which a detective, either an amateur or a professional, solves a crime or a series of crimes. Because detective stories rely on logic, supernatural elements rarely come into play. The detective may be a private investigator, a policeman, an elderly widow, or a young girl, but he or she generally has nothing material to gain from solving the crime. Subgenres include the cozy and the hard-boiled detective story.

For a more complete list of the rules of the genre, see "Ten Rules for Writing Mysteries."

Also Known As: detective novel

Examples: Mystery novels are satisfying to many readers because they know that everything will be resolved in the end.