Are Mystery Novels An Endangered Species?


I love to read mystery and suspense novels as well as to write them. Lately, I’m sensing a problem with the genre.  TECHNOLOGY! Will technology be the end of the good old-fashioned mystery novel? I hope not, but it certainly means changes are  coming.

I’ve been working on updating one of my older books (SERENITY SPRINGS, OHIO)  so that it can be released as an e-book. I was shocked to see how current technology made for some sticky rewrites from the original story manuscript.

Cell phones alone can change the whole dynamic of the story. I had one scene where one of the characters was needed to help in a hostage situation. In the original story, it took up almost complete chapter as police were alerted and hunted for the man. The tension built–will they or won’t they find him in time to save the hostages?

But as I read the scene, I realized the man would have a cell phone.  So that tense scene morphed into a few sentences of picking up a phone and waiting for the man to answer it. Sigh–not nearly as tense or exciting!

So, instant communication definitely changes the way mystery/suspense novels are written, but that’s just the beginning. What about all the technology available to the forensic labs? And the computer geeks? If you watch CSI, NCIS, Bones, or a variety of TV shows, it looks as if crimes are solved by scientists–not by the police or an amateur sleuth?

I admit it!  I’m intimidated by all the crime-solving technology available. I almost feel as if I need to go back to college and take a class on forensics or several classes not to mention some computer hacking classes before I write my next novel.

So, are mystery novels an endangered species or not? My gut says NOT.  Crimes are committed by people (real or characters) and no matter how much science can help there will always be the human element. That human element is where we writers will find our stories.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll start writing stories set in the sixties or seventies.

Life was a lot simpler back then–and so was writing!




NOTE:  To celebrate the release of SERENITY SPRINGS, OHIO as an e-book, I’m giving away a copy. Be sure to leave a comment if you want to win the e-book! Winner will be picked on June 17! Here’s a bit about the story:

Murder shatters the peace and tranquility of the idyllic village of Serenity Springs.

It appears to be an open and shut case to Chief of Police, Matthew Travis. A troubled teenager at the scene covered in blood with the murder weapon in his hand is arrested.

Unfortunately, as Matthew ties up loose ends, his once open and shut case begins to unravel as he discovers more suspects with better motives.