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.
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
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.
'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