This or That: Modern vs. Traditional

This or That_ Modern vs. Traditional Mysteries

So I have been thinking, what is the difference between Traditional Mysteries and Modern Mysteries? What author jumps out at you for a traditional mystery writer? If you said Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie I would have to agree. Though they are from somewhat different timelines aren’t they?

Untitled design (3).pngI mean, Doyle started writing his first story about Sherlock Holmes in 1887. Whereas Christie wrote and published her first story about Hercules Poirot in 1920 right after World War I. That is a little over 30 years between the two.

I have read quite a bit about Sherlock Holmes! I even wrote my Junior English paper comparing Sherlock and Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer! It was a pretty awesome read if you ask me. It helped that my English teacher was a HUGE Buffy fan! I loved how eloquently Doyle wrote about the crimes, Sherlock’s personality, and even Watson.

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Though, it is not entirely relatable now is it? I mean some items stay the same when it comes to a mystery. There is always going to be the murder, the sleuth, and the red herrings along the way. But the way women are viewed in series like Sherlock Holmes and even in some of Christie’s Poirot series they are seen as almost weak in a sense. They do grow as time goes on, but there are certain stereotypes that stay within the tradition mysteries that you don’t seem much of in the modern mysteries we read now.

The main characters in Christie and Doyle’s work around surrounded by the murder, right? They aren’t growing as characters very much. We see the flaws in the characters, but for the most part even the secondary characters, besides Watson, aren’t given much thought. This is something that is extremely different from Modern Mysteries, especially Modern Cozy Mysteries that are apart of a series.

You do need to know, that this is just my thought process and I wanted to write it out. I have not read very many Agatha Christie novels, but I plan to. I have read quite a few Sherlock Holmes adventures, but it has been about 11 years since I was fully immersed in the series.  Untitled design (5).png

Now, let us fast forward to the present. When I am talking about Modern Mysteries I am mostly talking about the type that I read the most of, Cozy Mysteries. I am not an expert in any shape or form nor do I claim to be when it comes to the Mystery or Thriller Genre.

However, there is something that I have noticed in the Modern Mysteries that I read. Women are predominately the amateur sleuths in the mysteries. They are also starting their life anew after a terrible accident, divorce, or something else entirely. They are needing to be in control of things within their lives. The secondary characters are almost as important and the primary characters. Also, the mystery is part of the book, but watching the protagonist grow is more important if you ask me.

As a reader if the protagonist isn’t relatable I am not going to read it. This is quite different with my expectations with Traditional Mysteries. For some reason I am able to over look the sometime harsh and cocky nature of Sherlock and Poirot. Whereas if any of the characters in my Cozy Mystery series showed those characteristics I would push away from reading it.

There is a difference however in Agatha Christie’s writing when she started the Miss Marple series. She is what I would call the Mother of the Cozy Mystery Genre. Miss. Marple took crap from no one! She was able to use her sweet demeanor and get into the mysteries and solve them. I think she is the one character that bridged the gap between Traditional and Modern Mysteries.

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I am thinking to myself, Why? Why am I okay with the way characters were written 100 years ago, but if my modern characters had the same opinions or thoughts about certain topics I would be put off by them?

It makes me wonder to myself. Am I allowing of that “behavior” because that is just how it was in the past? Women weren’t going to be considered sleuths or viable witnesses during that time and so I am more able to understand it and forgive it? I’m not sure.

This blog post has actually turned into something that I didn’t really expect it to turn into. I was wanting to know which one was better to read. I am now questioning why I allow myself to read somethings but then have a double standard for a more modern version of it.

Do I have high expectations for Modern Authors? I think so. I think the Modern Authors should, in essence, get with the times. Be as liberal and accepting as I am. I know this isn’t something that I should put on authors but for some reason I do. I have been unconsciously judging Modern Authors on a scale to which I do not judge Traditional Authors.

What are your thoughts? Am I completely off kilter when it comes to that? Let me know in the comments down below. I really want to know what you think!

3 thoughts on “This or That: Modern vs. Traditional

  1. “I think modern writers should, in essence, get with the times…” Good article, you thought carefully about the past and present. IMHO, ‘being modern’ works well with younger readers if the writer keeps in mind that some things never change. Kindness, good vs evil, the human condition as it is,and has been for centuries should be reflected in a well-written story.. History repeats itself and in the past we find our future. What is old? Is it a state of mind or being? Can a young person relate to the protagonist and learn from them? Should a story leave you with more questions than answers? I asked readers that once, surprisingly, the majority answered they wanted resolution. Do readers want to be entertained only? Or educated? Or both? I think combining the past with the present enriches some stories, not all, some. Fortunately there are enough books that cover each scenario to keep readers satisfied. 🙂


    • Thank you so much! I am so glad that you liked my article! I couldn’t agree more that there are so many different ways readers have expectations for the books they are reading. I know I get anxious if a book does not have a resolution, but that’s the kicker right? Not all stories have an ending. It’s interesting to me that you could probably tell the age of a reader just by their preferences sometimes!


  2. Oops – I like a cliff-hanger ending or one that leaves it up to the reader to resolve. So two of my books resolve and two leave it up to the reader to let their imagination decide. Guess by doing so, I ‘covered all my bases’ lol.


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