Armchair Mysteries: Definition and Origin

Written by on July 5, 2012 in More About Mystery Books, Mystery Genres with 3 Comments

Armchair mysteries is a term used to describe a sub-genre of the mystery books. It’s actually not recognized as a formal name, but the sub-genre name has taken on its own popularity. An armchair mystery is a story that can be read in one or two sittings. In other words, curled up in your armchair. A simple definition for a simple genre.

History of Armchair Mysteries

It was during the first heyday of mystery book publishing, the 1930’s and 1940’s, that the term began to be used. Then it was used in conjunction with cozy mysteries. Made famous by the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries from Agatha Christie, armchair mysteries will never win a Nobel Prize for Literature. And they aren’t meant to.

These are books that are meant for entertainment purposes, not for quality literature. Having said that, I will also say that each needs to be a well-written book with compelling characters and intriguing plots. The mystery itself must be plausible. The writing style can vary as with any sub-genre, but sentence structure and pacing of the novel must also be good.

Still Alive Today

In today’s book market, the armchair mystery is very much alive. Many talented writers are crafting great mystery stories with both professional and amateur sleuths. The plots can be complicated and the twists and turns it takes can cause you to be on the edge of your armchair. A little humor goes along with many of today’s mysteries. The authors have added just a fun touch of humor, or tons of humor, to make the read even more fun.

But, still, each is an easy read with entertainment value. These still allow you to curl up in your favorite armchair and take only a few sessions of reading to get to the end. The mysteries are often hard to put down, especially when you get to the climax. Rarely will you deal with gory or scary stories, just good mysteries to be solved. So grab your favorite mystery, climb into your favorite armchair and enjoy a good read.

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About the Author

About the Author: Avid reader of all in the mystery genre for more than 30 years. Over the past several years, I have been part of the review team for pre-release mystery fiction. My experience includes review and evaluation of mystery genre manuscripts for new authors. Clearly, mysteries are my passion when it comes to novel reading. .


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  1. What Are Armchair Mystery Books? | Lifestyle and Leisure | July 16, 2012
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  1. Mandee Sears says:

    That’s exactly how I describe Carol Higgins-Clark’s books. They are easy to follow and very entertaining but not the scope of a traditional mystery or thriller. They are so nice for a change of pace and I love the name: arm chair mystery. Official or not, it fits!

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