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The Butler Did It
History of the Mystery

The Butler Did It
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other ... (by )
  • The Mystery of Marie Roget : A Sequel to... (by )
  • The Purloined Letter (by )
  • Bleak House (by )
  • The Woman in White (by )
  • The moonstone (by )
  • The Leavenworth Case 
  • A Study in Scarlet (by )
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (by )
  • The Mirror for Magistrates (by )
  • The King of Pirates : Being an Account o... (by )
  • The Adventures of Caleb Williams : Or, T... (by )
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According to Index Translationium, UNESCO’s database of book translations, the most translated author in the world is Agatha Christie. If that doesn’t convince you of the mystery genre’s enduring popularity, then nothing will.

The genre, however, goes back  a couple of centuries before Murder on the Orient Express, making it a comparatively young form of literature. The genre centers upon solving crimes, whether the sleuth is an amateur detective (such as Nancy Drew or Father Brown) or a private detective (such as Sherlock Holmes or Maisie Dobbs). Committing crimes and solving them appear to be equal opportunity activities, with both male and female characters having ample opportunity to showcase their superior intellects.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg ignited the spark of literacy for the masses. As written content became widely available and commoners learned to read, people no longer looked solely to the bastions of literacy to inform their thinking. People began thinking for themselves, taking pride in human intellect and reasoning, and realizing that the written word not only offered an excellent means to educate and inform, but also to entertain. Combining intricate reasoning with entertainment led to solving puzzles which naturally led to solving crimes.
It’s elementary, my dear Watson.
As a genre, mystery (like romance) now serves as an umbrella for a host of sub-genres that further refine categories of whodunits. They include detective fiction, thrillers, cozy mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, hard-boiled, and more.

Readers who also prize the twisty mystery—without explosions and car chases—find great enjoyment in picking out clues alongside these fictional sleuths. The World Library offers an astounding array of mysteries, many written by authors whom you’d never suspect.
By Karen M. Smith

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