Difference Between Mystery and Suspense

Have you ever attempted to distinguish between suspense and mystery? It isn’t simple. Suspense is a mystery, and suspense is often mysterious, with opaque culprits and reasons that are difficult to comprehend.

Both of these genres have elements in common, such as the creation of conflict and tension. The more the stress and suspense, the longer it takes to handle the matter.

Mystery vs Suspense

The main difference between mystery and suspense is in the way they’re written, In a mystery, the audience doesn’t find out who the culprit is until the very end, whereas in suspense, the audience knows who the culprit is but isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be found. The primary distinction between mystery and suspense is this. Still, both of these genres are represented in the majority of modern films and novels.

Mystery vs Suspense

A mystery is essentially a puzzle. The mystery could come from any genre, such as a crime, romance, history, or science fiction narrative, or from a real-life scenario such as the news, where the details are unknown and difficult to piece together.

It piques people’s curiosity. People are drawn to mysteries because they let them ponder and challenge them intellectually.

Suspense is a term that describes sensations of fear and uncertainty. It’s more of a threat or looming danger that must be confronted and remedied. Solving problems is not a part of the suspense.

It’s an emotional experience in which the reader or audience shares the protagonist’s fear of danger or menace. It is an essential component of writing, and suspense writers have the ability to instill terror in the reader or audience.

They have a thorough awareness of what can endanger a person in the form of risk and anxiety.

Comparison Table Between Mystery and Suspense

Parameters of ComparisonMystery Suspense
Plot The plot of a mystery story revolves around finding the killer.The capture of the villain is the central focus of suspense stories.
VillainAt the very end, the killer/villain is exposed.The audience has already figured out who committed the crime.
Timing of a Crime or a CrisisThe violence takes place before the story.The viewer expects it to occur.
Audience’s OrientationThe audience’s comprehension of the clues may lag behind that of the detective.The audience is aware of the danger that the character is unaware of.
Audience’s ReactionInterest  and CuriosityStress and Concern

What is Mystery?

Something complex or hard to grasp or explain is referred to be a mystery. In a mystery novel, there is always a horrific murder or a crime to solve. Typically, the protagonist of the story is a detective attempting to solve the mystery.

The number of people in the story may be determined by the mystery’s size. The audience gets to know each character and gets a feel of who might be responsible for the crime.

A mystery is nothing more than an unanswered question and an attempt to rectify it. This enigma is typically a crime in literature, although anything inexplicable might inspire a wonderful mystery story.

Mystery, like any genre of fiction, maintains a format that the audience is familiar with. Something unfathomable has to happen. It could be a heinous act, a mysterious disappearance, or the unexpected presence of something or someone.

An investigation commences once the mystery has been revealed. Accused emerge as a result of the gathering of clues and witnesses. Everything will go off the tracks at some sudden point, and the story will end with a cliffhanger.

The majority of mysteries are narrated chronologically, from the moment the secret is detected to the moment it is solved, however, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, like in Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, the mystery is answered early in the novel and the rest of the plot is devoted to looking for the motive or the offender.

Whatever the period, all mystery leaves the audience with the same set of questions: Who is to blame for the oddity? What happened and how did it happen? What caused this to happen? Is justice fulfilled if someone deserves to be punished?

What is Suspense?

Suspense is an eager or worried condition of not knowing what will happen next. In thrillers, mystery, and detective stories, suspense is a major aspect.

In a suspense story, both the protagonists and the audience may have a clue as to who committed the crime.

However, the story revolves around apprehending the criminal. Because the audience has no idea how or if the culprit will be found or stopped in time, a sense of suspense is produced.

At the same time, the spectators may be apprised of details that the protagonist is unaware of. The attackers may set the explosives, for example, but the heroes may be completely unaware of it.

The struggle and victory of the protagonist provide satisfaction to spectators in this genre of literature.

Suspense is a literary device used by creators to maintain the fascination of their consumers throughout the work. It’s the sensation of being on the verge of something perilous.

The goal of adopting this type of anxiety in writing is to make viewers care about the actors and develop a sympathetic attachment to them.

As a result, authors construct circumstances that compel readers to understand and desire to keep reading to find out what their favorite characters will encounter next.

Main Differences Between Mystery and Suspense

  1. The plot of a mystery story focuses on who committed the offense, whereas the plot of a suspense story centers on capturing the villain and putting an end to his wicked plans.
  2. The perpetrator of the crime will be exposed at the conclusion of the mystery, whereas  In a suspense story, however, the viewers already know who did the crime.
  3. In mystery, viewers have the same insight as to the protagonists, whereas In suspense viewers may be acquainted with more facts than the protagonist.
  4. Excitement and inquisitiveness may lead readers to the conclusion of a mystery story. In contrast, the major feelings evoked by suspense stories are exhilaration and worry.
  5. In Mystery, The enemy is revealed to be one of the individuals the audience has already encountered. Suspense, on the other hand, requires the audience to encounter the villain only towards the final scene.
Difference Between Mystery and Suspense


“One key to the distinction between mystery and suspense writing involves the relative positions of hero and reader.

In the ideal mystery novel, the reader is two steps behind the detective … The ideal suspense reader, on the other hand, is two steps ahead of the hero” — Carolyn Wheat (Former defense attorney).

Suspense refers to an emotional process in which an unidentified scenario, event, or threat generates fear and anxiety and must be rectified; mystery refers to an evolving process in which a puzzle must be fixed.

In a mystery, the main character is concerned with discovering the truth about an occurrence, which is generally a murder but can be anything. In a suspense story, the central protagonist may only slowly become alerted of a dangerous incident.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=CXT_AQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA281&dq=+Mystery+and+Suspense+&ots=A2YwjYHM6p&sig=AYc233Ya29_CyOycOkw0DalPyJM
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=eaMZ6tqmhRcC&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=+Mystery+and+Suspense+&ots=oWO0IDhxLc&sig=0Yejwq9SwWjrbKHQwEh_9sxKsuI
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