Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Love A Mystery...Or Is It A Thriller?

The types of novel I write are styled as "medical suspense with heart." I have to confess that log line was suggested to me some years ago, and I liked it. When I adopted it, I gave no thought to whether I truly write suspense. Did I really? Or were they mysteries? Perhaps they were thrillers. What's the difference, anyway.

Before I tell you what I've heard as the "official" definitions for those terms, let me confess that what I write sometimes falls into one category, sometimes another. And really, what does it matter? If the reader enjoys it, I don't care what label goes on it. But here's what former agent Nathan Bransford says:

Thrillers have action.
Suspense has danger (but not necessarily action)
Mysteries have something you don't know until the end.

That having been said, I suppose what I write are either medical mysteries or suspense. But they have a bit of romance as well. I usually say they have just enough for women to enjoy them, yet not so much that a man throws down the book in disgust.

When it comes to contests, I usually have to classify my books as romantic medical suspense. On bookshelves... well, those titles are usually shelved by author name. I guess, as William Shakespeare said several centuries ago, "What's in a name?"

If you'd like to chime in with a comment, I'll choose one at random to receive a signed copy of my novella, Silent Night, Deadly Night. Don't forget to include your email address (in this format--Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com--to avoid web crawlers). What genre is the novella? It's either mystery or suspense...or maybe it's a thriller. Do you care?

Tweet with a single click. "What's the difference in mystery, thriller, and suspense novels?" Click here to tweet.


  1. Interesting definitions. I see all of these having action of some sort. Either way it makes for great reading. Lill dot Kohler at gmail dot com

  2. All of your books are great reads...I love them all! This is one I have not read to date.
    jacsmi75 at

  3. Mystery or Thriller love both. kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom.

  4. I bought this ebook a while back but haven't had a chance to read and review it yet, but I will!
    I love your medical suspense books. Not as crazy about thrillers, especially when they include blood and guts.

  5. Mystery/suspense is my favorite genre.

    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

  6. I love mystery and suspense books. Thrillers I'd probably enjoy too as long as there isn't anything graphic/gory in it (that goes for movies too). Time4us2havetea at yahoo dot com

  7. Oh, I'd love to read "Silent Night, Deadly Night"!

  8. I agree--if the book is good, I don't care what the genre or length is. :-) pat at ptbradley dot com

  9. Who cares? Not me. As long as it keeps me turning the pages, I don't care what genre it falls under.

  10. Thanks for clarifying the difference Richard! I've always wondered myself.
    As for me, it makes no difference the novel/novella genre, as long as it's a good mystery/thriller/suspense :-)

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. I like all three and the definitions were great.
    karenskrayons at gmail dot com

  12. Thanks to everyone who has left a comment so far. I especially appreciate the nice words from those of you who've read my other books. Keep the comments coming--I'll pick a winner after the weekend.

  13. It doesn't really matter to me whether, mystery, thriller or suspense. I like all three. Interesting to read the difference though. Thank you for sharing.
    anne at rightler dot com

  14. I would love to read your novella and it doesn't matter if it is a mystery, thriller or suspense! I enjoy mysteries and suspense and thrillers are fine, as long as they aren't gory and gruesome!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and this giveaway
    cps1950 at gmail dot com

  15. I like it all but I definitely like there to be some action going on in any suspense novel I read. I want to be held captive on the edge of my seat until the end!


  16. I'm not fussed about the labelling, but good to know. I love them all.


  17. I suppose I do look at what books are labeled as, but I also read the blurb about them, before I decide if I want to read it. I love historical fiction and will almost always read those. Suspense, especially medical suspense, interests me greatly, partly from interests I had as a young college student.

  18. Dr. Mabry, as long as you keep writing great books I personally won't be overly concerned about their category. I love the thrilling medical action that keeps me in suspense until the very end (if I can restrain myself from skipping to the end to find out what happened!). I admit--I like the romance but really read them for the medical thriller parts. And I love the Christian element! Thanks for writing!

    Ann Thrash-Trumbo
    thrash trumbo at g mail dot com

  19. I've just chosen a winner--Trixi wins a copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night. Thanks for all your comments.