by Steve Hockensmith
#1: The ones where a brilliant sleuth uses logic and an eye for detail to crack a seemingly unsolvable puzzle.
#2: The ones where a tough gumshoe uses street smarts and flying fists to pummel his way to justice.
(You could make the case that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the rest of their clean-cut teen crew deserve their own category, but I just see them as a subset of #1 with a lot more "Jeepers!" and "Golly gee!" thrown in. And no bodies.)
Today, on the other hand, there's nothing generic about the mystery genre. In fact, it's become amazingly, almost insanely specific in an OCD, "everything in its own little box" kind of way.
We've got crafting mysteries and baking mysteries and quilting mysteries and gardening mysteries and psychic mysteries and vampire mysteries and home renovation mysteries and on and on and on. I've even contributed to the niche-ification myself, having written Sherlockian/Western mysteries and middle-grade/science mysteries and (coming soon to a bookstore near you!) tarot mysteries.
In fact, the new tarot series came about because my friend Lisa Falco had a great idea -- she was going to write a novel about a tarot reader and her clients -- and I said, "You should make that a mystery. It sounds like exactly the kind of thing they're putting out these days." Lisa never got around to taking my sage advice, so eventually I talked her into letting me write the book.
Alas, I don't have time to take every viable idea for a new mystery sub-sub-subgenre and whip it up into a novel. So I'm offering the following titles to my fellow writers gratis. Just give me a shout-out on the acknowledgments page. And maybe 5% of gross....
A Nice, Hot Cup of Murder: A Tea-Leaf Reading Mystery
Death Ahoy!: A Ship-in-a-Bottle Mystery
Gun Beats Everything: A Rock-Paper-Scissors Mystery
Black Masses Are Murder: A Satanist Mystery
Worst. Murder. Ever.: A Simpsons Fan Mystery
Live Long and Prosper...NOT!!!: A Trekkie Mystery
Murder Is Magic: A Brony Mystery
Can You See the MURDER?: An Eye Exam Mystery
Heartburn Is Murder: A White Castle Mystery
Don't Ask What's in the "Beef": A Taco Bell Mystery
Murder Can Be Murder: A Death Row Mystery
Death Wore Pumps: A Foot Fetishist Mystery
Spelling Is Rmudre: A Dyslexic Mystery
To claim your title, go to stevehockensmith.com and leave me a message.