So I was cruising around some different blog sites this morning, most of which were about books and films (I know big surprise right?).  Anyways I noticed that some people use the word mystery to describe a certain book, other sites use thriller for the same book and still others use the word suspense.  And it got me thinking that I there are times that I’ve decided to read a book because it will be described as a mystery but while there is some suspense in the story, there is no real mystery. And its the same with suspense and thrillers, it’s listed as a thriller but while there is loads of suspense, there is nothing that says to me thriller.  So I actually looked those 3 words up on an online dictionary o see if the words are really as interchangeable as they seem to be. Here’s what I found.

MYSTERY:   A work of fiction, a drama, or a film dealing with a puzzling crime.

SUSPENSE:   Anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation.

THRILLER:  (Performing Arts / Theater) a book, film, play, etc., depicting crime, mystery, or espionage in an atmosphere of excitement and suspense

So after looking the words up and seeing that they are fairly interchangeable, it still bothers me.

I guess because to me a mystery should be like a who-done-it, with several characters to choose from, that keeps you guessing from beginning to end, like Agatha Christie’s The Mystery Affair at Styles


a suspense is one that you are not really sure what the end result will be but it fills you with a sense of unease and excitement as you wait to find out; like Mary Higgins Clark‘s Silent Night


and a thriller is one that is non stop action, a thrill ride so to speak, until the end like James Patterson‘s Kiss the Girls



I know I have the definitions right here in front of me, but it still seems a bit confusing. If you have a different take on these words, or a better way of describing them, please let me know.