The Crime Fiction Handbook
November 2012, ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell
- Provides an accessible and well-written introduction to the genre of crime fiction
- Moves with ease between a general overview of the genre and useful theoretical approaches
- Includes a close analysis of the key texts in the crime fiction tradition
- Identifies what makes crime fiction of such cultural importance and illuminates the social and political anxieties at its heart.
- Shows the similarities and differences between British, American, and Scandinavian crime fiction traditions
Introductory Note ix
Part 1 Introduction 1
Part 2 The Politics, Main Forms, and Key Concerns of Crime Fiction 9
The Politics of Crime Fiction 11
The Types of Crime Fiction 27
Classical Detective Fiction 27
Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction 34
The Police Novel 41
Transgressor Narratives 50
Vision, Supervision, and the City 60
Crime and the Body 75
Gender Matters 85
Representations of Race 96
Part 3 Some KeyWorks in Crime Fiction 107
Edgar Allan Poe: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) 109
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sign of Four (1890) 116
Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) 127
Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (1930) 136
Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (1939) 143
James M. Cain: Double Indemnity (1936) 151
Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) 159
Chester Himes: Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965) 167
Maj Sj€owall and Per Wahl€o€o: The Laughing Policeman (1968) 176
James Ellroy: The Black Dahlia (1987) 187
Thomas Harris: The Silence of the Lambs (1988) 198
Patricia Cornwell: Unnatural Exposure (1997) 208
Ian Rankin: The Naming of the Dead (2006) 218
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005) 227
End Note 241
Peter Messent is Emeritus Professor of Modern American Literature at the University of Nottingham. A specialist on Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and crime fiction, he has published numerous books and articles on a variety of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American writers. His most recent publication is the prize-winning book Mark Twain and Male Friendship (2009).
“Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” (Choice, 1 September 2013)
“Messent's readings are always perceptive and his book offers an excellent introduction to a diverse genre.” (The Guardian, 8 March 2013)
“Those interested in the more arcane byways of crime fiction will find this concise but intelligent volume invaluable, with its academic (but accessible) analyses of some of the key texts in the genre. What is perhaps the most valuable aspect of the book is the fact that Peter Messent has managed to unearth new insights into this much written-about subject — no easy task in the 21st century, when a considerable amount of analysis of the field (including, in a modest way, by this writer) is so endemic.” (Crime Time, 27 February 2013)"...at a stroke this volume joins the library of key texts in the field." (Crime Time, February 2013)
"... a good introduction to a prolific genre." (Times Literary Supplement, March 2013)
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