Mystery Readers Only

Guest Post: Mixing It Up: Why I Love Mysteries that Mash Genres Together

Singularity Syndrome by Susan Kuchinskas

By Susan Kuchinskas

I think the greatest pleasure in reading genre fiction comes from the tension between fulfilling my expectations for the genre and surprising me by breaking them in some way. I love mysteries for the puzzles and the assurance that justice will probably be served. I love science fiction for its trips away from reality—and I love nothing better than a book that smushes together science fiction and crime.

I’m also guilty of perpetrating this mashup. For my two novels, Chimera Catalyst and Singularity Syndrome, I chose the detective/science fiction hybrid for two reasons. First, I’ve covered technology and the Silicon Valley scene as a reporter for many years, and I wanted to take off from all the skewed attitudes and over-the-top behavior I’d witnessed. (For example, in Singularity, a tech titan wants to force humanity to serve an artificial intelligence; in real life, a tech guru founded a church to worship AI. I kid you not.) Extrapolating what could happen from current breakthroughs is part of the fun of science fiction.

Second, I suck at plotting. I mean, really. I can spend hours flummoxed by the question of what should happen next. So, the conventions of classic detective stories provide a ready-made structure: A crime happens, and the detective visits scenes, questions people and, eventually, gets somewhere. Voila, plot.

Shaking up a mystery with science fiction can provide a fresher milieu. Beth Barany told Mystery Readers Only she sets her mysteries in a hotel/casino on a space station because it would be an exotic location.

A science fiction element can also up the stakes. Charlie Huston based Sleepless on a real malady. In his novel, a policeman works to uncover a conspiracy while everyone in the world—including his wife and daughter—dies around him.

Adding in romance—or even sex—is another way to up the stakes and add some heat to a mystery plot. Heather Haven’s Christmas Trifle marries romance to a cozy mystery. She says she wanted to write a book about a couple’s journey into becoming better people together. “But rather than be preachy (good grief, so not my style), I chose to use food, humor, warmth, and, of course, a dastardly villain,” she says. “Love makes the world go round. Throw in a good murder, and you have a win-win situation.

While many of us are faithful to a genre, few of us cannot be lured by a great mashup. Just look at Outlander—historical fiction with a glorious brew of suspense, romance, horror and time travel. Romance and horror? Jane Eyre and Zombies.

I could go on, but instead, I’m going to start reading This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us, described as, “a mind-blowing, gender-bending, genre-smashing romp through the entire pantheon of action and noir. It is also a bold, tautly crafted novel about family, being weird, and claiming your place in your own crazy story.”

Now, that’s a juicy mix!


Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas’ novels and short stories travel through crime, fantasy, science fiction and erotica, often in the same piece. When she’s not hacking words, Susan digs in her organic garden, stares at her beehive, makes pottery and walks her dog through El Cerrito. Find out more about her here:

Chimera Catalyst and Singularity Syndrome are available in paperback or Kindle formats. 

Chat with Susan on Twitter ( or Facebook ( Follow her on Amazon ( or Goodreads (

Mystery Readers Only

CSI in Space: A Futuristic Mystery

Into the Black By Beth Barany


Coming Soon…

by Beth Barany


I love writing about adventure and about strong women having adventures. A few years ago, I decided to write mysteries set on a space station hotel casino because I thought it would be an exotic location, especially if I set my story in the future and especially if I wrote it from the point of view of my detective, Janey McCallister.


Janey is very concerned about justice and righting wrongs. She also needs her job at the hotel-casino to help her mom who is sick with an incurable disease. Yes, they have those in the future.


She had a tragedy in her past that changed her from a hopeful young woman who wanted to work as a scientist on a space station around Saturn, to a serious person who just wanted to leave the company town she grew up in to make a better life for herself a few thousand miles away.


When she got there, she thought she had it made: a boyfriend, a great job, and all her needs met. Then tragedy struck. Her best friend went missing. Then she turned up dead, and Janey was the one to discover the body.


The cops shut her out of the investigation, but she couldn’t go back to the way things were. Janey returned home, lived with her mom again, and then got a job in Space Wing Command. She soon found herself in Investigative Services traveling to the military and civilian space stations around planet Earth. Four years later when her commission was up, Janey was faced with a decision: re-up with Space Wing or get a better paying job to help pay for her mom’s expensive experimental medication.


That’s when Janey applied for and got the job as Lead Investigator at Bijoux de L’Étoile, the world’s trendiest and most expensive getaway, a fabulous hotel-casino in high earth orbit where a night’s stay could pay for a whole town’s food for a year.


After a five day journey in StarEl, the space elevator like a train, Janey and a few dozen other station workers arrived at the Jewel in the Sky.


Our story opens… excerpt from Into The Black (A Janey McCallister Mystery, Book 1):


Her implant flagged a quick movement in the crowd. Out of place, a shadow shifted. She clicked on her video. She’d get irrefutable evidence this time. Hope and determination fluttered in her chest.


A short, grey-haired man wove his way through the crowd, shoulders hunched, barely jostling people. Her implant flashed an ID: Mortimer Xang. His hotel record showed he’d arrived via space jet a week ago and he had a room in the mid-priced level. No others in his party. He was leaving on the next transport Earthside in a few hours. Payee: Xang Enterprises.


One minute left.


He looked innocent enough, except for how one corner of his mouth quirked up in a faint smirk even though his gaze was downcast. And how his arms seemed pasted to the side of his body. He took tiny steps, as if to make himself even smaller.


Classic moves of a thief. Suspicious, though not evidence.


Her vid was recording, but all the other thefts had happened under the casino cameras and not been detected.


She’d always trusted her intuition and her ability to read body cues before. But since she’d come to the station, she’d gotten it wrong twice. Should she wait for another sign that Xang was guilty? No, her gut told her he was up to something. She trusted that.


Pre-Order Into The Black (A Janey McCallister Mystery, Book 1) here:



She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?


In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Étoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.


Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.


When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before the killer escapes into the black.



Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.


For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.


Sign up here to be notified when her new mystery series goes live:

She loves hearing from her readers and answers all her emails from readers, though it may take a while!


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Beth Barany
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