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Genre Discussions > Is there anyone who knows the name of this mystery genre?

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message 1: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Hello everyone. My name is Fanta. I just joined the group and would appreciate it if you would welcome me. I am here today because I would like you to help me about a name of a genre.

I love this kind of mystery;

Characters gather in a place, for example a big house in a mountain or an island,
A hurricane or a blizzard comes, so they cannot return and have to stay there for around a week,
A murder happens, and the murderer should be one of the characters, but nobody knows who it is,
Also police cannot come there because of the hurricane or the blizzard,
The second and third murder may happen,
At the end of the story, the murderer is identified, and the case may be resolved (usually the weather will become good too).

"And then there were none" and "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie are the examples that I have read in English. I am Japanese and have read many such books in Japanese. The genre is called "closed circle" in Japan, but I do not know the name of the genre in English. So could you let me know the name? By any chance, does the genre have no name in English?


message 2: by Desley (Cat fosterer) (last edited Oct 22, 2017 02:58AM) (new)

Desley (Cat fosterer) (booktigger) | 429 comments sounds a bit like a locked room mystery


message 3: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2345 comments Very often they're called 'Cozy Mysteries' or 'Cozies' because of the setting (a 'closed' environment) and because the murders happen off-stage (aren't described in the book).

Agatha Christie was a master of the genre.


message 4: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Desley (Cat fosterer) wrote: "sounds a bit like a locked room mystery"

There are genres called "locked room mystery" or "locked room murder" in Japan too. "Closed circle" mysteries I mentioned earlier sometimes have murder in a locked room.

Quillracer wrote: "Very often they're called 'Cozy Mysteries' or 'Cozies' because of the setting (a 'closed' environment) and because the murders happen off-stage (aren't described in the book).

Agatha Christie was ..."


I thought a cozy mystery is a genre that the case happens in a more casual or normal place. The murders in "closed circle" happen on-stage because the point of view of the story is usually a character's one in the closed situation.


message 5: by Bill (new)

Bill Burris (wburris) | 0 comments My introduction to "locked room mystery" was in science fiction stories by Larry Niven. In these stories the only person in the locked room was the victim. (so not the same as what Fanta describes) The mystery was, how did someone get in and leave without leaving any signs of forced entry. These stories must have been in The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton.


message 6: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2345 comments Fanta wrote: "I thought a cozy mystery is a genre that the case happens in a more casual or normal place. The murders in "closed circle" happen on-stage because the point of view of the story is usually a character's one in the closed situation."

I've read cozies that were locked room (or closed circle) mysteries.

When I said the murder in a cozy happens off stage, I meant the only way the characters (and the reader) learn about the murder is when a character discovers the dead body somewhere in the house or on the grounds, etc. The author does not show the murder happening from either the killer's or an observer's point of view.


message 7: by Christophe (new)

Christophe Van | 7 comments Fanta wrote: "Hello everyone. My name is Fanta. I just joined the group and would appreciate it if you would welcome me. I am here today because I would like you to help me about a name of a genre.

I love this ..."


I do not believe that the genre defined by the very specific plot structure you describe has a name in English. "Cozies" are a much broader category, and "locked room" is not the right label either (bad weather and lack of police are not defining features of a locked room mystery).


message 8: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Bill wrote: "The mystery was, how did someone get in and leave without leaving any signs of forced entry."

I think it is a typical case of locked room mystery. There are many studies about solutions for the situation, e.g. a suicide, the victim locked the room to protect himself/herself from the attacker and then died, the killer was still in the room when the body was found, and so on.

Quillracer wrote: "When I said the murder in a cozy happens off stage, I meant the only way the characters (and the reader) learn about the murder is when a character discovers the dead body somewhere in the house or on the grounds, etc. The author does not show the murder happening from either the killer's or an observer's point of view."

I see. So, murders usually happen off stage in Japanese mysteries.

Christophe wrote: "I do not believe that the genre defined by the very specific plot structure you describe has a name in English."

I'm surprised and wondering if they are not popular in English books.


message 9: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments By the way, does "closed circle" make sense in English? I think it is pseudo-English. Is "closed situation mystery" or "closed environment mystery" better?


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill Burris (wburris) | 0 comments Is there any good Japanese "closed circle" novels that have been translated into English?

I still haven't got a Japanese chip installed in my brain.


message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) | 13 comments TV tropes calls it Closed circle also, so that's probably the best term to use in English as well, but I've never seen it used in book descriptions. It's more common to extend 'Locked room mysteries' to include cases where all the suspects are inside the room (or island, or snowed-in train, etc.).

It's a quite common trope in western mysteries, not just Agatha Christie, since it's a convenient way to limit the number of suspects. Some interesting examples are Nine and Death Makes Ten (murder on a ship travelling over the Atlantic ocean) and 1222 (people snowed in).


message 12: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2345 comments There have been other variations on the idea:
People stranded on an island
People trapped in a collapsed building..

Basically, anywhere you can isolate a group of people from the world at large and have one of them murdered by another person and the rest forced to solve the crime fits the criteria.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 554 comments "Cozy" usually refers to the level of violence or gore; "locked room" and "closed circle" (borrowing a term from TV, that seems relevant here) refers more to the type of story. Agatha Christie was a master of both, but numerous other authors have written them. (Coming to mind immediately - Rex Stout's Too Many Cooks, Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, Ngaio Marsh's Night at the Vulcan, or Elizabeth George's Payment in Blood. All of these are "locked room"; some are also cozy, and at least one is not.)


message 14: by Christophe (new)

Christophe Van | 7 comments Paula wrote: "TV tropes calls it Closed circle also, so that's probably the best term to use in English as well, but I've never seen it used in book descriptions. It's more common to extend 'Locked room mysterie..."

Thanks for noting the use the term "closed circle" for TV plots. As you note, the idea is used in may Golden Age mysteries.

As to the term "locked room," I prefer the narrow definition of locked room as an "impossible crime" where a victim is found in a locked room, no one has been seen entering or leaving, there is no murder weapon on the scene, etc. John Dickson Carr was a master at this. Just having multiple suspects stuck in a manor house or snowed in train or other locale cut off from the rest of the world is not enough for a plot to qualify as a locked room mystery, under that narrow definition of the genre.


message 15: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Bill wrote: "Is there any good Japanese "closed circle" novels that have been translated into English?

I still haven't got a Japanese chip installed in my brain."


Unfortunately, there seems no closed circle mystery translated from Japanese. Japanese books are rarely translated into other language. Higashino Keigo is one I know as an mystery author whose books have been translated, and he wrote some closed circle mysteries actually but just in Japanese.

Paula wrote: "Some interesting examples are Nine and Death Makes Ten (murder on a ship travelling over the Atlantic ocean) and 1222 (people snowed in)."

I can borrow 1222 from my library. Thank you for the nice recommendation!

Quillracer wrote: "There have been other variations on the idea:
People stranded on an island
People trapped in a collapsed building."


I also like a situation where people cannot leave a village because the only bridge to other town was broken by the culprit or because the only road to other town was closed by a landslide.


message 16: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments I'm relieved to hear there are many closed circle mysteries in English but also wondering why the term comes just from TV not books.


message 17: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2345 comments Fanta wrote: "I also like a situation where people cannot leave a village because the only bridge to other town was broken by the culprit or because the only road to other town was closed by a landslide. "

Yep, they both qualify as well.


message 18: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 560 comments Fanta wrote: "Hello everyone. My name is Fanta. I just joined the group and would appreciate it if you would welcome me. I am here today because I would like you to help me about a name of a genre.

I love this ..."


A few other 'closed circle' you might be interested in:
The Burglar in the Library by Lawrence Block
Red Christmas by Patrick Ruell
Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
The Scent of Almonds by Camilla Lackberg

I thought I'd seen a recently translated Japanese book about a group of students on an island but my memory is terrible with titles...I'll see if I can find it.

Almost worth starting a Listopia!


message 19: by Miss M (last edited Oct 25, 2017 08:26AM) (new)

Miss M | 560 comments I was thinking of The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

ETA: another in translation
The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa


message 20: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Miss M wrote: "A few other 'closed circle' you might be interested in:..."

The Burglar in the Library has its translated version. I'll try it!

Miss M wrote: "I was thinking of The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji

ETA: another in translation
The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa"


Ayatsuji is the most famous author about closed circle mystery in Japan. I haven't read the decagon house murders yet (maybe it's his first novel), but one of his works is that I like best on this genre. Arisugawa is famous mystery author too. Actually I have read one of his closed circle mystery, the two head devil (not translated).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 554 comments There is indeed a listopia for "locked room" mysteries - I bet we could make it longer and more complete, though. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7...


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) I consider locked rooms the impossible to think of mysteries with shut-in rooms like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Poe's Murder in the Rue Morgue.

I love the isolated mystery theme like And then There were none - I just call them Secluded or trapped mysteries. I don't know that they have an official names. Locked Rooms is another sub-genre as I stated above with examples, at least in my opinion.

I do like the term people are using in the thread called "Closed Circle". That makes sense and is a good name for this mystery trope.


message 23: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Oct 26, 2017 04:06PM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "There is indeed a listopia for "locked room" mysteries - I bet we could make it longer and more complete, though. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7..."

The definition on that list is how I also think of "Locked Room Mysteries". Different from the closed circle ones though.

Looks like people rated And then there were none as the #1 voted though, which I can't agree with it being a locked room mystery. Lists are made of so many differing opinions

I do like both of these types and need to seek out more of them


message 24: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "There is indeed a listopia for "locked room" mysteries - I bet we could make it longer and more complete, though. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7..."

If my memory serves me right, there was no murder in a looked room in "And Then There Were None", but it is on the listopia. So people seem to think "looked room" means not just a room but also a place like an island separated from the world as some here say.


message 25: by Fanta (new)

Fanta Miste | 9 comments Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "There is indeed a listopia for "locked room" mysteries - I bet we could make it longer and more complete, though. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7......"

I just noticed your comment after my post earlier. I'm wondering now that the idea a looked room mystery is not equal to a closed circle may be the majority.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Fanta wrote: "Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "There is indeed a listopia for "locked room" mysteries - I bet we could make it longer and more complete, though. https:/..."

To me they are pretty different. Locked room means impossible crime where you have to figure out how it was done when no one was in the room to murder someone, so I'm not sure why people are thinking of And Then There were none. Maybe because they are thinking they didn't know the murderer as part of the group, but that's pretty much in every mystery really.


message 27: by Bill (new)

Bill Burris (wburris) | 0 comments I am reading The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov.

This is sort of a locked room mystery. There are only 20,000 people on the planet Solaria. Each couple has their own estate. It is socially unacceptable and repulsive to physically see another person. All social interaction is done by viewing electronically. Even spouses rarely see each other physically. The only suspect is the victim's wife, but there is no motive and no weapon.


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