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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Mystery

Definition:

Ah, the perennial question. Mysteries everywhere have been trying to answer this one for, well, forever, and especially since the rise of popular fiction. John Grisham knows whodunit. James Patterson totally has a clue.

But before you go writing off the mystery genre as solely the realm of popular fiction, consider these famous literary mysteries:

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
John Updike's Rabbit, Run
Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon
Charles Dickens's Bleak House

What do all these books have in common? Murder, suspense, and puzzles. In a word: intrigue.

Just ask Sherlock Holmes.