Genre Resource Guide: Crime and Mystery

A Comprehensive Guide for Readers and Writers


In 1841 Edgar Allan Poe introduced the first fictional detective — C. Auguste Dupin, who debuted in the story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” From there, the crime and mystery genres evolved via authors, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, and Agatha Christie, and characters, such as Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlow, and Perry Mason. Today the crime and mystery genres are among the most popular with readers, as well as consumers of film and TV. This guide is packed with more than 40 resources for lovers of the crime and mystery genres. In addition to general genre resources, you’ll find resources for writers, teachers, and kids, and links to relevant podcasts and blogs.

General Crime and Mystery Resources

Check out the following links that will allow you to browse the resources in an online crime library, listen to a nostalgic radio program, or find your next mystery or crime novel read.

Mystery Writers of America

MWA dedicates itself to promoting a high regard for the crime writing genre. No matter if you’re an aspiring or accomplished mystery or crime writer, MWA has something to offer you in the form of literacy programs, scholarships, symposia, and conferences.

Stop, You’re Killing Me!

Use this resource to find potential mystery, crime, and thriller reads. You’ll find over 56,000 titles from close to 5,000 authors that you can search easily.

A History of Detective Fiction: Literary Origins

Discover the literary origins of the genre of detective fiction – you might be surprised.

Crime Museum: Crime Library

Even though the Crime Museum is no longer in operation, this crime library is a rich repository for exploring, researching, and learning more about the fascinating — and sometimes macabre — world of crime.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

If you’re into nostalgia, use this link to stream more than 1,000 episodes of old-time detective, thriller, and science fiction radio stories.

Private Eyes

This site has plenty of commentary and audio clips about the private eyes who starred in radio series throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Crime and Mystery Subgenre Resources

Within the genres of crime and mystery exists a plethora of subgenres. Learn more about them in the following links.

Subgenre Descriptions

From the Writer’s Digest, this is perhaps the most complete listing of mystery/crime subgenres.

Mystery Subgenres

For a bit more information about the mystery subgenre, check out this link. You’ll find definitions for each subgenre and examples.

The Hard-Boiled Way

Are you interested a genre filled with tough guys, violence, and racy writing? If so, hard-boiled is what you’re seeking.


This subgenre typically contains a bloodless crime and a victim who has few – if any – ties to anyone.

American Procedurals: Top 10 Series Writers

Procedurals serve up law and order in relation to all types of cases and mirror real-life police work in detail.

Crime and Mystery Writing Resources

If you’d like to try your hand at writing a crime or mystery story of your own, we have you covered with the following writing resources.

Understanding the Essentials of Writing a Murder Mystery

Learn about plotting backward and other methods of crafting a crime or mystery story readers won’t be able to put down.

Top Rules for Mystery Writing

Author Ginny Wiehardt shares her top tips for mystery writing in this helpful article.

10 Tips on How to Write Believable Crime and Murder Scenes

Craft a realistic murder scene with these tips from a former homicide detective and coroner.

Stories That Kill. 7 Tips for Writing Crime

Here’s another roundup of helpful tips for writing in the crime genre.

Famous Crime and Mystery Authors

If you take a stroll through a bookstore or library, you’ll see that crime and mystery authors are not in short supply. While it wouldn’t be practical to list all of the greats here, we’ve included some of the best.

Agatha Christie

From comes this piece about the life of Agatha Christie, mystery writer. Interestingly, Christie’s own life was somewhat of a mystery.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Born in 1859, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once aspired to be a serious historical novelist, but his most remembered accomplishment are his works about Sherlock Holmes.

Dashiell Hammett

Before Dashiell Hammett came onto the scene, the hard-boiled genre of crime fiction was somewhat disreputable. However, his short stories and novels quickly catapulted this genre to a respected status.

Edgar Allan Poe

As the inventor of the modern detective story, Poe was a genius — albeit a dark, brooding one, which can be seen in his often-macabre horror tales.

Patricia Highsmith

This late author passed away in 1995. However, she is well-known for her riveting thrillers such as The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Ruth Rendell

Considered one of the world’s foremost mystery and suspense writers, Ruth Rendell, now deceased, is well-known for her British police Procedurals and psychological suspense thrillers.

 James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke, born in Houston, Texas, in 1936, has experienced much success with his novels and short stories. In fact, he won an Edgar Award twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year.

Patricia Cornwell

From her first forensic thriller novel, Postmortem, to her more current works, Patricia Cornell has experienced tremendous success by selling over 100 million books.

Notable Crime and Mystery Cases

Sadly, there’s been no shortage of gruesome crimes committed in the past centuries to serve as source material for crime and mystery writers. Discover some of the more notable ones below.

Notorious New England Crimes

This link contains information about notorious crimes that occurred in New England, such as the famous case of Lizzie Borden.

Murder by Gaslight

Discover “gas-lit” murder stories that took place in America during the 19th century. Here you’ll find plenty of revenge and obsession.

Famous Cases and Criminals

This link takes you an extensive list of some of the FBI’s most famous cases within the last century, such as Al Capone and the Unabomber.

Jack the Ripper

This site could be the only one you’ll need to gather information about the infamous Jack the Ripper. Using this useful and detailed resource, you can read articles, view documentaries and photos, and consider evidence.

Crime and Mystery Games

Do you love online mystery and crime scene games? Brush up on your sleuthing skills with these fun links.

5 Minute Mystery

With a free account you can read and solve mysteries or write and submit your own mysteries. New mysteries are published twice weekly.

Armchair Detective: Can You Solve These Historical Cases?

Read the profiles and take your best guess as to which notorious criminal each one describes. Solutions are provided.

The Detective Game

While not an online version of a detective game, this activity is perfect for teachers who want to help their students think critically and practice their sleuthing skills. Follow this link for the full lesson plan.

CSI: The Experience

Hosted by the Rice University School Mathematics Project, and funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Institutes of Health, this online crime scene investigation simulation is sure to inform and entertain players.

Crime and Mystery Teaching Resources

If you’re lucky enough to teach students about the intriguing topics of crime and mystery, here are a few of the best online resources we located.

Solving Mysteries in Stories and Throughout the Curriculum

This thorough lesson plan unit offers teachers activities that students will find engaging and fun, such as writing a classroom mystery, simulating the fingerprinting process, solving short mystery stories, and more.

Using Detective Fiction to Raise Interest in High School Readers

This unit is designed to help struggling high school students strengthen reading skills and boost their overall interest in reading.

Everyone Loves a Mystery: A Genre Study

This 20-lesson unit for students in grades six to eigth engages them in directed learning activities related to the mystery genre.

Write Me a Mystery

Designed for 11th graders, this lesson plan tasks students with using the writing process to craft a murder mystery in short story form within teams.

Mystery-Based Classroom Activities

The Mystery Writers of America has compiled this educator’s page with links to mystery-based reading and writing learning exercises. Activities are categorized by grade level from elementary to high school. The list includes “The Murder Mystery Game,” which uses a “living” Clue board and incorporates the reading of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. 

Mystery Genre Resources for Kids

Looking for some age-appropriate mystery material for younger readers? Check out the resources below.

The 100 Best Children’s and YA Mysteries of the Past 10 Years

From The Case of the Stinky Socks for second graders to Bullet Point for high school students, this comprehensive list of books is sure to appeal to younger mystery readers.

9 Mysteries Fourth and Fifth Graders Recommend to Their Friends

Here are nine mystery books that younger readers recommend to their peers.

20 of the Greatest Kid Detectives in Pop Culture

Kids can solve mysteries, too. Here’s a roundup of 20 of the most popular young sleuths ever.

Crime and Mystery Blogs

Keep up with the current events and happenings in the mystery and crime literature world or learn more about the classics with these links.

Detectives Beyond Borders

Check out this spirited and compelling blog by Peter Rozovsky, which details what’s currently happening in the mystery literature world.

Sons of Spade

Enjoy high-quality reviews of mystery titles and interviews with important authors.

Crime Fiction Lover

No matter what kind of crime fiction you like — cozy or hard-boiled — the two journalists who run this blog cover it allwith their reviews.

Crime, Guns, and Videotape

Get a true crime perspective from Paul Hubel, a currently licensed private detective and a former policeman.

Crime and Mystery Podcasts

Give yourself some downtime and listen to one of these intriguing podcasts. Whether you’re in the mood for true crime or fictional mysteries and thrillers, this section is a great resource.


Host Phoebe Judge offers odd crime drama to listeners. Tune in for the oddities and the engrossing narrative style.

Generation Why

Tune in to this weekly podcast that covers unsolved mysteries and analyzes suspiciously closed cases. Cases are chosen by the listeners or the hosts.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Fiction Podcast

Listen to compelling reading and dramatizations of mystery and crime tales brought to you by the world’s leading suspense writers.

Speaking of Mysteries

Join hosts Nancie Clare and Leslie Klinger for interviews with best-selling — and not so well-known — authors of mysteries and thrillers.

In Sight

Hosts Charlie and Ali dive into the world of unsolved crimes and focus on missing person’s cases and mind-boggling mysteries.