Simpler yet ... a thriller is a novel in which danger and tension abound.
<<Danger abounds in the Captain Aubrey books by Patrick O'Brian, the Captain Hornblower books by C.S. Forester, the Colonel Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, etc. <<
That makes them historical thrillers.
Jim also said:
<<You wouldn't call them thrillers, however, because they're not crime fiction>>
There are "crime thrillers," "mystery thrillers," "historical thrillers," "science fiction thrillers," etc. et al.
A thriller in the broadest sense is a novel in which danger and tension abound. (I withdraw my acceptance of excitement because it implies something manic, which it does not have to be.)
It can include the historical novels Jim mentions, books like *The Andromeda Strain,* The Harry Potter Books, even poorly written books like *The Da Vinci Code."
What Jim is defining is the "mystery thriller," not a "crime thriller." A crime thriller requires no mystery just a crime that keeps people in danger and under tension.
A mystery Thriller can include some so-called cozies. *Ten Little Indians,* (American Title) certainly is a thriller ... but I suppose in a sense it is not really a cozy, no matter who wrote it. I don't believe that most Cozies fall into the crime or even mystery thriller category, although they can.
Most of Chandler's work are mystery thrillers, because Marlowe is always in danger.
Cormac McCarthy's *The Road* is a science fiction or future-history thriller, although slow moving. It would have been noir if he hadn't brought in the almost literal Deus ex machina at the end.
(I've spent far too much time on this. Others here probably think so too. So I am gone.)
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