Howcatchem: Mystery Tropes

A “howcatchem” mystery is a type of detective story where the reader knows who the criminal is from the beginning, and the focus is on how the detective or protagonist will catch the perpetrator. The term “howcatchem” is a play on the more common “whodunit” mystery, where the reader does not know the identity of the perpetrator until the end of the story.

In a howcatchem mystery, the focus is on the detective’s investigation and deduction skills, rather than on solving the puzzle of the crime itself. This type of mystery can create a sense of tension and suspense, as the reader follows along with the detective’s efforts to gather evidence and build a case against the perpetrator. The challenge for the writer in this type of story is to create a compelling and believable case, while keeping the reader engaged and interested in the detective’s process.

One of the most famous examples of a howcatchem mystery is the TV show “Columbo,” which first aired in the 1970s and starred Peter Falk as the titular detective. In each episode, the audience was introduced to the murderer at the beginning of the story, and the rest of the episode focused on Columbo’s investigation and eventual capture of the criminal. The show was known for its clever writing, memorable characters, and twist endings.

In recent years, howcatchem mysteries have become popular in the true crime genre, where the focus is on the investigation and capture of real-life criminals. Shows like “Forensic Files” and “The First 48” follow detectives as they solve real-life crimes, using forensic evidence and witness interviews to build a case against the perpetrator.

Overall, howcatchem mysteries offer a unique and engaging twist on the traditional mystery genre, and can provide a fresh perspective on the process of crime-solving. Whether in fiction or non-fiction, these stories can be both thrilling and satisfying for readers who enjoy a good mystery.


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