Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Nancy Mehl

I started my career writing mysteries. After the release of several mysteries, an editor asked me to change a mystery proposal into a suspense proposal. My Amish mystery morphed into Mennonite suspense. That first book was titled SIMPLE SECRETS. From there five more novels followed. From time to time, I’m asked to explain the difference between mystery and suspense. In my opinion, the line separating the two genres is much thinner than most readers believe.

 Mystery has a simple definition. Something happens and no one knows why it happened or who did it. The main character, who can be a professional or an amateur, must find the answer through a series of clues. In other words, a mystery is a puzzle. The solution must be solved through the clues the writer inserts in the story. And the reader should have a chance to solve the mystery. Mystery readers don’t like ambiguous clues that lead nowhere or don’t make sense. They are trying to solve the problem along with our fictional sleuth.

So, what is suspense? Just like in a mystery, something happens and a solution must be found. However, in suspense the reader may actually know “who” and even “why” from the very beginning. Think “Die Hard.” In the beginning of the movie, we knew who the bad guys were and what they were trying to achieve. Our hero’s job was to stop it. One other aspect of suspense is that the solution will come through an event, not a clue. So the hero must use his wits to overcome evil, but usually the evil is known.

However, sometimes suspense crosses the mystery line. Think of a suspenseful book or movie that saves a surprise for the end. The reader may know “what” the hero is fighting, but the real bad guy may turn out to be someone the hero considered a friend. Someone the reader or viewer doesn’t expect. There weren’t any clues to follow so the surprise is just a…surprise. Although still technically called suspense, something hidden until the end is actually one of the aspects of mystery.

Although I write suspense, there is always a healthy dose of mystery in my novels. I love to combine the two, and I’m blessed to have publishers that allow it.

Speaking of suspense, I want to announce my newest novel, GATHERING SHADOWS. It releases in April and is the first book in my new Finding Sanctuary series. I’m really excited about this novel. Here’s a synopsis:

Wynter Evans, despite her current position as a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, Missouri, has never gotten over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. But when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to her missing brother during an assignment to investigate unusual places in the state, she can't pass up the chance to find out what may have happened. Under the cover of research for her job, she sets out for the place where the photograph was taken: the primarily Mennonite town of Sanctuary.

Upon her arrival, she meets Rueben King, the town's handsome young mayor, and together they begin to uncover long-held secrets that could not only tear the small town apart but also change everything Wynter believes about her own life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it soon becomes clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life.

And here’s a look at the cover of GATHERING SHADOWS.

I know April is several months away, but if you’d like to win a copy of GATHERING SHADOWS when it comes out, leave a message, along with your email address, and I’ll pick a winner on Friday.




  1. Nancy,
    Thank you for the explanation. I love a good mystery/suspense novel. Count me in the drawing.
    My email is:

  2. I love your books and this one sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Nancy,
    I love your books and I can't wait to read Gathering Shadows. I would love to win a copy!
    Judy B judyjohn2004(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. I would love to be a winner of your book. Thank you for the opportunity.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  5. Gathering Shadows sounds so good! I would love the chance to win a copy. Thank you!
    Brittany McEuen
    kbmceuen at yahoo dot com

  6. I have enjoyed reading your simple series of mystery-suspense, looking forward to the new book. thanks for sharing
    Paula O(

  7. Thanks for this opportunity. Wonderful post. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Love your books Nancy Mehl!!!!
    Would love to win this one!!!!
    Your writing is very addicting!!!!

  9. I'd love to read Gathering Shadows! Thanks for the thoughts on how mystery and suspense bleed into one another. richnvoni (at) yahoo (dot) com

  10. I love the way you explained the difference between mystery and suspense! I really didn't know the difference and have even seen the two words put together, so then i'm really confused! I love your writing, ALL of it, and would love to win a copy of Gathering Shadows! Julie

  11. I enjoy reading your books. Thank you for the explanation between the two. rackylemaire(at)

  12. That looks absolutely amazing! Thank you for the explanation of the differences between mystery and suspense. That is actually something that I have wondered about.

  13. Now I know why I enjoy both mystery and suspense. Thank you for giving us the low down, Nancy. "Gathering Shadows" sounds great. Thank you for sharing a synopsis along with this post AND the chance to win a copy.

  14. I would love to win a copy of your new book. It sounds great and the cover is beautiful!
    Thanks for the contest.

  15. Informative post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  16. I really enjoyed learning the difference between mystery and suspense. I've always known there is a difference, but I wouldn't have been able to define it to anyone, so it's really cool for me to now know what it is. :)
    "Gathering Shadows" sounds really interesting - I've never read a mystery/suspense novel set in Mennonite community . . . how does that affect the story, I wonder? I love the book cover, by the way. It looks great! :)

    1. Hi, Sarah. I have to tell you that the main character in the second Finding Sanctuary series, is named Sarah! LOL! Actually, setting evil against the backdrop of a community dedicated to simplicity and nonresistance makes the story more interesting in my opinion. Mystery and suspense is the story of good versus evil. What better way to show the difference between the two than to pit an Amish or Mennonite town against someone who has hate or violence in their heart?

  17. Love to read and enjoy your books. Thanks. Ellen

  18. Nancy, hope you won't mind me borrowing your words to explain the differences to my young library patrons. As a children's librarian, this comes up often and you nailed it! I'm a faithful reader of your books- loved the Road to Kingdom series! Would love to win the new one- it looks intriguing...
    God Bless! Jana

    1. Please do. I love libraries! My dil is a youth librarian in Missouri. :)

  19. I would love to win a copy.

  20. I love this explanation - it makes sense to me now! Thanks!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  21. I would like to be entered to win this book!! Thanks!!


  22. Thanks for explaining the difference between mystery & suspense, Nancy! Would love to read Gathering Shadows - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


  23. Thank you for explaining the difference between mystery and suspence. They both keep the reader wondering what is going to happen and asking how the author is going to pull it off before the book ends. Martha T. @ crprairie1@imonmail(dot)com.

  24. Altho I knew the difference between mystery and suspense I really liked your way of wording it. I would like to win a copy of Gathering Shadows but winning or buying I will be reading it!

  25. Thank you for sharing the explanation of differences between mystery and suspense.

    I can't wait to read more about Wynter and Rueben and would love to win a copy of GATHERING SHADOWS! Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  26. Sounds like an interesting book. I love to read mysteries and I like suspense on T.V. and in movies so I know about the difference between them.


  27. When I first read the synopsis of the book, I called my twin sister over (who only reads "the greats"!) and I told her about your book. After I explained what the book was about, she goes, "Oh yeah... That does sound super interesting!" That is a hefty compliment. ;)

    So thank you for the giveaway! I'm very excited to try out your writing! (:


    In Christ,
    Maiden of Emmanuel

  28. ilove mysteries and suspence , i would love to get a copy of this book thanks for the chance
    Shirley Blanchard