The Intriguing Role of the Coast in Mystery and Suspense Novels


The coast has always been an intriguing setting for mystery and suspense novels in literature. From the eerie fog rolling in from the ocean to the ominous cliffs and hidden coves, the coast offers a sense of mystery and danger that captivates readers. Its vastness and unpredictability make it the perfect backdrop for secret plots, deceitful characters, and unexpected twists. In this article, we will explore the intriguing role of the coast in mystery and suspense novels in literature, using examples from popular works to show how this setting adds depth and suspense to these stories.

First and foremost, the coast is often portrayed as a remote and isolated location, which creates a sense of unease for the characters and the readers. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” the moors surrounding the coast of Devon are depicted as desolate and foreboding, adding to the suspense as the terrifying hound lurks in the shadows. Similarly, in Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” the estate of Manderley is situated on the cliffs of the Cornish coast, and the protagonist is constantly consumed by the fear and isolation of her new surroundings.

Moreover, the natural elements of the coast play a significant role in fueling the mystery and suspense in these novels. The ocean’s tides, storms, and even the moon’s phases can be used as plot devices, creating a sense of urgency and unpredictability. In Agatha Christie’s “Evil Under the Sun,” a mysterious murder occurs on a secluded island off the Devon coast during a dramatic storm, adding to the intrigue and confusion surrounding the crime. In this way, the coast becomes more than just a setting; it becomes an active agent in the plot, heightening the tension and keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Furthermore, the coast is often associated with secrets and hidden agendas, making it the perfect place for deceitful characters to carry out their plans. In Nicholas Evans’ “The Horse Whisperer,” the protagonist’s love interest lives on a remote ranch on the coast of Montana, concealing a past that threatens their relationship. Similarly, in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the protagonist’s husband takes her to a secluded house by the coast to hide her from the outside world, leading to a chilling series of events as she unravels the truth.

The coast also offers a sense of duality, where things are not always as they seem. The tranquil beauty of the coastline can easily mask the danger that lurks beneath the surface. In Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects,” the protagonist’s hometown on the Missouri coast seems like a serene and picture-perfect community, but as she delves deeper into her investigation, she discovers a sinister side to this seemingly idyllic setting. Similarly, in “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie, the glamorous journey along the French Riviera takes a sinister turn when a murder occurs on the train, highlighting the contrast between the luxurious coast and the deadly crime.

In conclusion, the coast plays an essential and intriguing role in mystery and suspense novels in literature. Its remote and isolated nature, the presence of natural elements, its potential for concealment and secrets, and the duality it represents, all add depth and suspense to these stories. From classic works to modern bestsellers, the coast remains a popular and effective setting for mystery and suspense, capturing readers’ imaginations and leaving them enthralled until the very end. Next time you pick up a mystery or suspense novel, pay attention to how the coast is used as a vital element to build tension and add to the overall intrigue of the story.