So for enlightenment I turned to the International Thriller Writers organisation who characterise a thriller as:
“the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace."
I think this is true of the crime novel. OK, so it depends on what type of crime novel. Some admittedly unfold at a more leisurely pace depending on the personality of the main character, his or her background, the story and the setting. If it is a cozy mystery then, yes, it is less likely to move along at breakneck speed although there will be suspense, peaks and lulls.
So let's hear more from the International Thriller Writers.
"Thriller is a genre in which tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world."
In a crime novel the hero might be a police officer, or a private eye, who can still be tough and resourceful. DI Andy Horton certainly is in my crime novels. And he is pitted against villains determined to destroy him, although not necessarily the country or the stability of the free world. But hang on he might be called upon to do so if there is a terrorist element in the plot, and it could be said that criminals involved in drugs, trafficking and other heinous crimes also threaten the stability of the country and the free world.
So, again I think there can be a certain overlap between the crime novel and thriller.
In Cold Daylight and Alex Albury in In For The Kill find themselves pitted against villains determined to destroy them. Often in a thriller the hero is faced with what seem to be insurmountable problems in his mission, carried out against a ticking clock, the stakes are high and although resourceful he faces personal dilemmas along the way forcing him to make sacrifices for others.
This is true for both Adam Greene and Alex Albury. Adam, in a quest to discover the truth behind his closest friend's death, fire fighter Jack Bartholomew, finds himself up against a huge conspiracy at the top. His whole way of life begins to crumble before him and he faces many personal dilemmas and danger on his journey.
In a thriller there is tension and conflict along the way and an unexpected, satisfying conclusion and I believe that also applies to crime novels, well I like to think it does to mine! Whether crime novel or thriller the main characters/s will have internal conflict, moral dilemmas, and tough decisions and choices to make, as these help develop and define them. Their actions drive the story forward.
So am I any clearer on the difference between a crime novel and a thriller? To a certain extent yes. But concerning my own crime and thriller novels I'm not so sure. It seems that my crime novels are also thrillers or should that be my thrillers are also crime novels? Does it matter? No. Whether crime novel or thriller all that really counts is that it is a satisfying and enjoyable read.