I'm having trouble pinning down the genre for my novel. As the title states, it's set in a fictional universe that is entirely without fantastical elements. The world is very grounded and somewhat resembles the mid 19th century in terms of technological and cultural development. I actually originally envisioned the novel as historical fiction from that time period, but as development went on, it made sense to move to an entirely fictional universe for various reasons. The plot is a little bit mystery (there's a murder, and a good chunk of the book deals with solving it), a little bit high-stakes thriller (an occupied nation beginning a revolution).
But the fictional universe aspect of it is giving me hang ups in terms of genre. Maybe it's just me, but I always assume a book labeled as thriller or mystery (or even action/adventure, in most cases) takes place in the real world (with embellishments). But calling this fantasy doesn't feel right either. The best I can come up with is speculative fiction, which is obviously a pretty vague and useless genre term. Any ideas? I've included the hook paragraph from the query letter I'm working on below, if that helps you get a better idea of the feel. Thanks for the help!
Nasira Laxmi has spent her life fighting to free her home, the island city-state Avak, from Masozi occupation. Her husband, Hakan Bhaskar, a Masozi soldier who never believed in his country's imperialism, thinks she just sells tea. But when a member of Avak's underworld and Hakan's best friend is executed, the first casualty of an impending revolution, Hakan vows to find the killer. And Nasira vows to help him.Until she realizes she has been framed for the murder, and her sister is kidnapped in retaliation. Now Nasira must track down the real killer to save her sister's life, while staying one step ahead of her husband -- and trying to discover why someone is pushing Avak, her home, towards a war it cannot win.