Mystery, Thriller, and Crime Novels: What’s the Difference?

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 3, 2021 • 5 min read

When it comes to twenty-first century Americans’ tastes in fiction, few genres sell better than crime, mystery, and thriller. The best books in these genres are gripping, suspenseful, and full of intrigue until the very end. They routinely top New York Times bestseller lists, and many spawn larger series, leaving enthralled readers eager for each new book.

While closely related, crime novels, mystery novels, and thrillers are not synonymous genres. Each has its own idiomatic characteristics and attracts a specific audience.