Crime Fiction: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Crime Fiction

1st Edition

By John Scaggs


184 pages

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pub: 2005-01-27
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Crime Fiction provides a lively introduction to what is both a wide-ranging and hugely popular literary genre. Using examples from a variety of novels, short stories, films and televisions series, John Scaggs:

  • presents a concise history of crime fiction - from biblical narratives to James Ellroy - broadening the genre to include revenge tragedy and the gothic novel
  • explores the key sub-genres of crime fiction, such as 'Rational Criminal Investigation', The Hard-Boiled Mode', 'The Police Procedural' and 'Historical Crime Fiction'
  • locates texts and their recurring themes and motifs in a wider social and historical context
  • outlines the various critical concepts that are central to the study of crime fiction, including gender, narrative theory and film theory
  • considers contemporary television series like C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation alongside the 'classic' whodunnits of Agatha Christie.

Accessible and clear, this comprehensive overview is the essential guide for all those studying crime fiction and concludes with a look at future directions for the genre in the twentieth-first century.


'Crime Fiction presents a digestible yet highly informative and intricate analysis of the genre. It is a valuable resourse for mystery and detective aficionados in addition to scholars' - Amy C. Branman, In-between

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1. A Chronology of Crime: Early Crime Narratives Crime Stories as Cautionary Tales Crime Fiction and Policing The Golden Age to the Present Chapter 2. Mystery and Detective Fiction: Retracing the Steps The Origins of Mystery Fiction Reasoning Machines: The Figure of the Amateur Detective Escalating Crimes: From Purloined Letters to Murder Maintaining Social Order and the Status Quo Settings and Sub-Genres Chapter 3. The Hard-boiled Mode: Murder for a Reason Origins and Development A Shop-Soiled Galahad: The Private Eye Hero Last Chances and New Beginnings: The Myth of the Frontier Mean Streets and Rat's Alleys: Modernity and the City Fallen Angels: Appropriation of the Hard-Boiled Mode Chapter 4. The Police Procedural: Thin Blue Lines Fiction as Ideological State Apparatus Private Eye to Public Eye: The Development of the Procedural Textual Investigations: Characteristics of the Procedural, Social Placebo The Magic Bullet of Procedural Reassurance Arrested Developments: Appropriations of the Procedural Chapter 5. The Crime Thriller: Outlining the Crime Thriller The Noir Thriller The Anti-Conspiracy Thriller 6. Historical Crime Fiction: Writing History and Interpreting the Past Crime, History and Realism The Case of the Name of the Rose Postmodernism and the Anti-Detective Novel

About the Author/Editor

John Scaggs is a Lecturer in the Department of English at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. His research interests include Modern Fiction, with a particular emphasis on crime fiction and revenge tragedy, the Gothic and Literary Theory.

About the Series

The New Critical Idiom

The New Critical Idiom is an invaluable series of introductory guides designed to meet the needs of today's students grappling with the complexities of modern critical terminology. Each book in the series provides:

  • A clear, explanatory guide to the use (and abuse) of the term
  • An original and distinctive overview by a leading literary and cultural critic
  • Helpful definitions of the boundaries between the literary and non-literary
  • Basic guidance for the introductory reader in how the term relates to the larger field of cultural representation

With a strong emphasis on clarity, lively debate and the widest possible breadth of examples, The New Critical Idiom is an indispensable guide to key topics in literary studies.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
FICTION / Literary