Mystery Genre Study
We will be discussing classic/locked room mysteries. Each person will read a different classic mystery novel and we will be discussing how the novels fit (or don’t fit) the description of a classic mystery
GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATING IN A MYSTERY GENRE STUDY
We will be discussing classic mysteries, which include the Golden Age of Mysteries. According to Genreflecting: a guide for popular reading interests:
“The “Golden Age” of detective fiction refers to the flowering of these classical mysteries (especially in Britain) between the two world wars. British writers such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, Gladys Mitchell, and the Americans John Dickson Carr and S.S. Van Dine created one puzzle mystery after another designed to test the wits of attentive readers. Many of these writers were members of the London Detection Club, whose 1928 “oath” included such guidelines for authors as not withholding clues from readers; avoiding reliance on coincidence, intuition, and hunches rather than reason, and minimizing use of suspect devices like evil twins, conspiracies, and lunatics. The American writing team of Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, better known as Ellery Queen, left their mark on the era through countless anthologies, reprints, and a magazine that offered prizes to readers who could solve a fictional crime before the solution was presented. “
When you read your chosen mystery, you want to keep the “oath” in mind as we’ll be talking about how your novels fit, or don’t fit, into this description.
We will hold this book discussion in a slightly different manner than the regular ones. First, we’ll go around the table and each person will give a brief description of their book (by brief I mean just a few minutes – certainly no more than 5 minutes). To help you with this, I’ve attached a genre study worksheet that you can jot some notes on to help you remember elements of your book. If my staff was doing a professional genre study, I’d have them fill out the entire sheet in detail for reader’s advisory work. You can just fill out as much as you want as this is just to job your memory.
We’ll then talk about how our books fit into the characteristics of a classic/golden age mystery and add our own ideas to what we feel are the characteristics of a classic mystery.
I’ve pulled a number of books from which you can choose your novel. If you have an idea of another novel that fits in with this category, feel free to read that one instead. If two people want to read the same book, we can interlibrary loan another copy for you.
The main thing is to HAVE FUN WITH THIS! This is a laid back genre study and the discussion can go whichever way we choose. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me by phone, in person, or by e-mail. Happy reading!!
Addison Public Library,
4 Friendship Plaza, Addison, IL 60101
630-458-3313; firstname.lastname@example.org 7/09
Classic & Locked Room Mysteries - Definition
Genre Study Annotation Form