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Chantal K

on 30 October 2013

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What makes a Mystery?
Historical Mysteries

Mystery Readers and RA
"Though Americans distrust the profession as a whole, we have an insatiable appetite for stories about crimes, criminals, trials and all sorts of juicy lawyer stuff."
- John Grisham
Heritage Canada, Reading and buying books for pleasure 2005 national survey p.153
Who is the typical mystery reader?
Over the age of 45
Reads 10.4 hours a week
Also enjoys general fiction and espionage/thrillers
Fluent and articulate
Enjoys a particular author or character
Intelligent and enjoys solving puzzles
RA and the mystery reader.
How much violence is the reader comfortable with?
Does the reader prefer a strong character or is the plot more important?
Does it matter to the reader if the author or sleuth is a male or a female?
Private Investigators
What does Hard-Boiled even mean?
My Reader:
Early twenties, female, reads frequently
Most important elements are a dark tone and moral ambiguity
Prefers mysteries, general fiction and thrillers, also occasionally reads nonfiction
Dislikes romance and literary fiction
Likes to connect with the central character, particularly strong independent female characters.
Enjoys discussing books and movies online
Enjoys a variety of mediums (audio, visual)
Police Procedurals
A short introduction to mysteries...
Current Trends
- Foreign Settings or Translated works
- Cozy Mysteries
Why Mysteries?
Appeal Elements:
- Tone or Mood
- Frame (Time and Place)
- Characters
- How a crime/mystery is solved
The Reader
- Young, female
- Avid reader, but new to the sub-genre
- While she reads for pleasure, she also likes to gain knowledge
- Prefers female protagonists
- Character relationships are important, but does not like too
much romance
- Enjoys realistic, fast-paced works
- Comfortable with violence
- Open to a variety of material (i.e. Film, Television, Non-fiction)
Popular Authors and Titles
Presumed Innocent - Scott Turow
https://www.library.ns.ca/files/thrillers_1.pdf Halifax Public Library
The Last Juror - John Grisham
Daddy's Girl - Lisa Scottoline
Reading Map
Mystery reading in Canada
The demographics of a mystery reader
Who is the typical mystery reader?
What matters to mystery readers?
Who doesn't love a good mystery?!
Popularity of mysteries
Whats in a mystery?
What is a Police Procedural?
Typical Books and Authors
My reader...
28 year old male, works in IT
Likes to escape in his books, loves details and strong characters
Is not a fan of romance or "fluffy" novels
Is open to crime and violence, but does not like extremely graphic books, didn't like the term "noir"
Is a TV watcher - loves Law and Order and CSI
"Loves the backstory" - the characters, getting to know them over time

Reading Map

1940s - where it all started
Police office/Law Enforcement agent as detective
Inner workings of police department are prominent
Focus on detective or team

Mystery Genre Awards

Agatha Awards established in 1988 and are presented at the annual fan convention (Malice Domestic) www.malicedomestic.org/aboutmalice.html .

Edgar Awards are sponsored by Mystery Writers of America (MWA) www.mysterywriters.org – among the oldest and most prestigious awards of the genre-specific awards, established in 1946 to recognize mystery and crime writing.

Macavity Awards named for T.S. Eliot’s mystery cat in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, are awarded annually by Mystery Readers International (MRI). They were established in 1987, www.mysteryreaders.org/index.html .

Shamus awards established in 1981 by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/triv72.html -- membership is open to fans, writers and publishing professionals.

Arthur Ellis Awards are Canadian awards which honour a Canadian Crime & Mystery writer. They are determined by Crime Writers of Canada.

Who was the first author to write an Historical Mystery?

What constitutes an Historical Mystery?

Why are there few Historical Police Detective Mysteries being written?

Historical Mystery Reader Characteristics
These readers:

Feel that the length of the story or the book is not an issue.
Tend to read slowly and carefully for full comprehension or are quick readers who devour literature.
May enjoy reading by subject as much or more than by character.
May read fiction and nonfiction (universal reader) or may read more nonfiction (particular reader).
Yu & O’Brien, 1999, pp. 46 - 47

Historical Mystery Award

The Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award is presented by the Crime Writers Association.

2013 Award Winner - The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor

Characteristics of the Reader for the Historical Mystery Reading Path
Mostly, she enjoys reading nonfiction material but she has read Agatha Christie's, Death Comes as the End and really enjoyed it. She would like titles involving Ancient Egypt and Agatha Christie.

Fuzz by Ed McBain
(87th Precinct Series)
From Sisters in Crime 2010- The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age, p 7
Reader History and Development
Did not read a lot of books growing up
Has discovered reading over the last few years
Got interested in reading mystery books after he discovered some mystery books that gave him the same "feel" as his favourite "cop dramas"
The Mystery of Marie Roget by Edgar Allan Poe with C. Auguste Dupin as the detective.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue was the first of the three stories featuring Dupin in 1841.

Arthur Conan Doyle 1859 - 1930

A Study in Scarlet was first published in 1887
in the Beeton’s Christmas Annual Magazine.

History of the Mystery
History of the Mystery
Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee
History of the Mystery –
Mysteries Go Global in the 1970’s
H. R. F. Keating
English writer of Mystery stories in India

Batya Gur is a Mystery writer with stories
set in Israel.

Laura Joh Rowlands is a Mystery writer with
stories set in feudal Japan.

Magdalen Nabb

Donna Leon

Michael Pearce is a Mystery writer who
writes about Egypt with the Mamur
Zapt series.

History of the Mystery
By 1982, women private investigators became prolific as well as female authors.

In addition, ethnic, religious, and racial issues were introduced within the Mystery genre.

Lesbian detectives also surfaced during this period. Characters could now specialize in a field, such as a caterer or forensics.

In 2004, the first Thriller Conference in the United States took place.

*(Orr and Herald, p.130 – 131)

Historical Mysteries
Hard-Boiled Private Investigators
Late 1920s
Traditionally male
Private Investigator
Dark tone
Emotional detachment
Amoral worldview
high violence
sexual content
Notable Hard-Boiled Authors & Private Investigators
Historical Mystery Authors
Reading Map
Mystery stories in Italy
L. R. Wright is Laura Rose Wright,
a Canadian Mystery writer.

Canada Canadian Heritage. (2005). Reading and buying books for pleasure: 2005 national survey final report. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/site/eng/273336/publication.html

Chadwick, K. (2012). Crime travels: Mystery preview 2012. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Charles, J., Clark, C., Hamilton-Selway, J. & Morrison, J. (2012). The readers' advisory guide to mystery (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL : American Library Association

Charles, J., Morrison, J. & Clark, C. (2002). The mystery readers' advisory: The librarian's clues to murder and mayhem. USA: American Library Association.

Goldman, A. (2011). The appeal of the mystery. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 69(3): pp. 261-272.

Sisters in Crime & Bower Pub Track (2010). The mystery book consumer in the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.sistersincrime.org/associations/10614/files/ConsumerBuyingBookReport.pdf

Gannon, M. (2004). Blood, bedlam, bullets, and badguys: A reader's advisory guide to adventure/suspense fiction. USA: Libraries Unlimited.

Charles, John, Morrison, Joanna and Clark, Candace. The Mystery Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Clues to Murder and Mayhem. American Library Association. Chicago, USA. 2002.

Collins, Max Allan. The History of Mystery. Collectors Press. Portland, Oregon. 2001.
Legal Thrillers
"Everything is ordered, good and bad clearly defined, the bad guy always gets what he deserves, the hero shines, no loose ends. It's a refreshing antidote to the real world."
--Michael Connelly, author
Last Bus to Woodstock
by Colin Dexter
(Inspector Morse Series)
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
(Temperance Brennan Series)
History of the Mystery
Jacob, Merle. Serving Readers. Edited by Ted Balcom for the Illinois Library Association. Highsmith Press. Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, USA. 1997.

Maata, Stephanie L. A Few Good Books Using Contemporary Readers’ Advisory Strategies to Connect Readers with Books. Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. New York, New York, USA. 2010.

Orr, Cynthia and Herald, Dianna Tixier (editors). Genreflecting – a Guide to Popular Reading Intrests (7th edition). Librarians Unlimited. Santa Barbara, California, USA. 2013.

Saricks, Joyce G. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. 2nd edition. American Library Association. Chicago, Illinois,
USA. 2009.

Saricks, Joyce G. Reader’s Advisory Service in the Public Library (3rd edition).American Library Association. Chicago, USA.

Shearer, Kenneth D. Guiding the reader to the next book. Neal- Schuman Publishers Inc. New York, New York. 1996.

Yu, Liangzhi and O’Brien, Ann. A Practical Topology of Adult Fiction Borrowers Based on Their Reading Habits. Journal of
Information Science 25, no. 1. 1999. pp. 35 – 49.
Reading Map:
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