The modern mystery has its roots in the 19th century. Early writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, and Edgar Allan Poe were developers of the genre. The first mysteries, before modern forensics, were cozy in nature. The requirements were a small group of suspects, a few clues, and the art of deduction to solve the crime. Many of the early crime writers were English and we still tend to think of the mystery as a British staple.
At the turn of the century the love of a good mystery expanded quickly. Sometimes written as serials in magazines and sometimes as novels or novellas, a mystery was sure to show up in most boudoirs for night time reading.
The 1920s are considered the golden age of the mystery novel. It was in this era that two well-known writers, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers introduced us to Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Lord Peter Wimsey. For many years a common expectation in the writing world was 'a Christie for Christmas.'
Meanwhile. across the pond, mystery was aimed at the young with sleuths Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
As the appeal of a good mystery grew over the next decades, it expanded in scope. American writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dasheill Hammett wrote a more hard-boiled story, introducing us to the tough private eye. Other writers chose police detectives as their protagonists.
After a lull in the later decades of the 1900s,in the twenty-first century we have a new expansion of the mystery. True crime is always popular and to that we can add supernatural, suspense, and historical. With new forensic science taking hold of imaginations, we see police procedurals and mysteries centred around pathologists or scientists.
Dark brooding mysteries from writers like Val McDiarmid join true crime authors such as Ann Rule.
Of course the cozy never has gone out of style. Now it has taken a whole new direction with series taking place in ice cream parlours, bakeries, and at quilting bees and with cats or dogs as sidekicks.
I love them all, but I still have a soft spot for Agatha Christie, no matter how many times I've read her 80 books.
Authors usually choose a series centred around events or places that interest them or are in their comfort zone. I have two cozy series started. The first (Island Charms and Murder At The Island Spa) has a middle-aged divorced sleuth who makes her home on Vancouver Island, my current home. The Boarding Kennel (Old Shadows, New Murder) series involving Taylor, a younger sleuth, takes place in a small Manitoba town, similar to the one I grew up in. I am presently working on the third book in the Island series and the second in the Boarding Kennel one.
My only fear tackling two series at once is that my characters may decide to cross over. Wouldn't that be fun? Say, maybe that could be the start of a whole new idea.