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The wealth of genres in crime literature!

« Crime fiction is not just one genre, but a rich and varied diversity of writings », Agrakal Publishing House.

Apart from the cozy thriller, which we specialise in, other genres also belong to crime literature, notably the detective novel (commonly known as the "polar" in French) and the thriller.



Les richesses de genres de la littérature policière, un vrai trésor !
The wealth of genres in crime literature!


When we wrote this article, we were reading Nathalie's article on our esteemed partner's website, fnac.com. She presented the different sub-genres of crime fiction, and we took the liberty of disagreeing with her entirely. In fact, Nathalie lumped crime fiction and detective novels together, which for us are still two very different sub-genres, even if in essence they remain very close.


While Nathalie made a good distinction between a crime novel and a thriller, which we fully agree with, we wouldn't put a crime novel and a thriller on the same shelf, as they differ in their atmosphere, their writing and the way their characters play out.

Out of curiosity, we went on the Internet to find out what other crime fiction specialists had to say. In fact, most of them agreed with us that a detective novel was not necessarily a thriller, but we particularly liked the definitions given by another partner, Librairies Decitre which clearly differentiated between detective novels and thrillers.

We aficionados of crime fiction take a look at the various sub-genres that make up its richness.

Le roman cosy, un genre de la littérature policière
The wealth of genres in crime literature!
  • The detective novel or novel of enigma or whodunit: this is still a participatory novel, by which we mean that the reader takes part in solving the enigma and, in general, is always mistaken about the identity of the murderer or murderess. Crime novels almost never use the victim's point of view and remain very concrete in all the details of the investigation. It places itself on the side of the investigator, who may be a policeman, a detective or even a journalist. It also presents the reader with a single plot in a logical, well-crafted sequence: the drama, often in the form of a murder, the investigation and the denouement. The investigation remains the main feature, at the heart of the novel. Examples of some authors: Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Boileau-Narcejac, Gaston Leroux…

Le roman d'énigme, un genre de la littérature policière
The wealth of genres in crime literature!
  • The “polar”: As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we liked the definition of the detective novel that we found on the Decitre bookshop website. Here it is: "A “polar” is, in a way, a detective story from another point of view. In practical terms, a detective novel tells the story of a police investigation, usually from the point of view of a policeman or detective. The investigation itself is the heart of the novel. In the case of “polars”, the investigation does take place during the course of the story, but it is in the background. “Polars” focus more on the characters and are, for the most part, from the point of view of the "bad guys", who are gangsters most of the time. “Polars” are much darker and more 'extreme' than crime novels. That said, “polars” can also be written from the point of view of the policeman, but they are still dark novels where the tortured psychology of the characters is emphasized over the investigation. When there's a murder in a “polar”, it's more detailed than in a crime novel, and the descriptions are creepier, more macabre and unhealthier”. As you may have guessed, “polars”, which are similar to crime novels, are the antithesis of cozy novels, and are very successful because they are so close to real life and its various events... Examples of some authors: Jean-Christophe Grangé, Ken Follett, Mary Higgins Clark, James Ellroy

Le polar, un genre de la littérature policière
The wealth of genres in crime literature!
  • The thriller or suspense novel: A thriller novel, which frankly we would prefer to call a suspense novel, is written by our authors to provoke strong emotions in the poor reader who should normally be glued to the novel. Thrillers make unbridled use of narrative tension to keep readers on the edge of their seats right up to the denouement. Unlike thrillers, the plot does not focus on the investigation or the plot itself, but on several plots, so that the murder is not at all the central enigma. Unlike thrillers, which focus on the investigator or the victim, thrillers can put the spotlight on the killer. Some thrillers even go so far as to introduce the dark character on the very first page, and the reader watches in horror as his murder or murders are organized and his victims executed. A well-written thriller can be devoured quickly, hence the name page turner. Examples of some of the authors: Frank Thilliez, Maxime Chattam, Harlan Coben


The thriller
The wealth of genres in crime literature!

There are other equally important classifications:

  • - The spy novel, in which the hero must foil international plots. Example: John le Carré

  • - The historical crime novel, where the action takes place in a period of the past. Example: Jean-François Parot (Nicolas Le Floch)

  • - Ethnic crime novels, where the investigation takes place in a particular socio-cultural context. Example: Tony Hillerman (Indian Tribes)

Thanks to the fnac.com and decitre.fr websites for giving us the idea of writing this article. Great reads from crime fiction, whether cozy, suspenseful, classic or noir...



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