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Michelle

Difference between the genres?

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What is it that separates crime novels from thrillers? Is it that the former is focused more on the case solving, whereas a thriller focuses on the baddies? Or is there more to it than that?

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Is it that Thillers are about trying to find something or prevent something - ie, it's more about an event or quest, whereas Crime is about a dead body and someone trying to work out who committed the murder?

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For me, the difference between the two is that a crime novel is usually a conventional who done it (alá Christie, Doyle, Dexter, Cornwell etc) and a thriller is a story where someone is trying to uncover the truth about a situation - which may not necessairly involve a search for a killer (alá Cussler, Clancy, Harris, MacLean etc).

 

I was looking though my reading list for the last few years earlier thinking "I've not read any crime novels for years", but could you class Enigma, by Robert Harris as being one? Or is it a thriller?  (I'd say the latter).

 

A greyer area is the Rivers of London books, by Ben Aaronovitch.  They are effectively police procedurals with a fantasy twist, but are they crime novels or fantasy?

 

I don't have a clue what I would call A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami!

 

At the end of the day I don’t suppose it matters what they are, if you enjoy reading them.

Edited by Raven

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I always thought thrillers were often more fast-paced and not confined to police procedure,like Deb says a 'quest'. Whereas most crime novels I've read tend to follow a formula of  a crime investigated by a lead detective police inspector and his/her sergeant or private eye as in The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith.

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I always think that crime novels and mysteries are more about unravelling and solving crimes that have happened, and thrillers are more about facing crimes that are about to happen and dealing with impending danger. Of course, many novels have both going on at the same time.

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I agree with Sam on this. Thrillers tend to be in the present and involve current troubles for the protagonist, usually involving some kind of race against time. Lee Child and Simon Kernick for instance. Crime novels are usually a puzzle to solve involving events that have already happened. It is crime novels, more often than not, that will often involve flashbacks to bring the past into the present like The Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg or a cold case novel like my own The Unquiet Grave which has to lay out past crimes to give the reader a fair chance to solve the puzzle. (Don't mean to keep blowing my own trumpet but it's quicker to reference than trying to come up with other examples) :)

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I hadn't really thought about this, but I suppose for me personally, a crime book would start with a crime,(duh!) which would then be solved by a professional  - police, private detective etc. A thriller would be a fast-paced story, usually with a crime involved, but with a protaganist that wasn't necessarily a professional.

 

That doesn't really do justice to the whole of what I think, and it sure leaves a HUGE cross-over area!

 

Basically, Ian Rankin's "Rebus" book I'm always going to look at as Crime; Lee Child's "Reacher" books are always going to be Thrillers in my eyes - even the ones where Reacher is still in the army investigating crimes.

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