1st Edition

Detective Fiction on the Case of Community The Mystery at the Heart of the Modern

By Devin Fromm Copyright 2025
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    “Detective Fiction on the Case of Community” uses one of the most popular forms of modern literature to examine one of modernity’s most trenchant problems. The project rests on the argument that detective fiction emerges specifically from an awareness of the stress that modernization puts on the possibilities of communal life, as industrialization and urbanism accelerate the alienation and atomization we recognize as modern conditions. Here the detective appears as an image of thinking still able to perceive the threads that link such alienated people together, and therefore able to imagine solutions along the lines of these obscured connections. Reading the genre’s journey, from its origins in Poe to its most unorthodox form in Pynchon, allows fresh perspectives on the possibilities and limits of modern community, from its endurance as part of modernization to its meaning today as a sticking point in theoretical debate and political activism.

    Introduction: The Mystery of the Vanishing Community


    Chapter One:


    Investigations Begin: The Mystery and Promise of Analysis


    Dupin and a Reimagining of the World


    Sherlock Holmes, the Aesthetics of Mystery, and the Relations of Investigation


    Conclusion: Fairy Tales of the Modern


    Chapter Two:

    Investigations Below: Latin American Detection and the Ecosophical Turn

                Detective Fiction in the Latin American Literary Field


                Borges Rewriting Poe


                Borges’ Literary Event and the Boom


    Piglia and Detection as Ecosophical


                Conclusion: Detection and the Politics of the Possible


    Chapter Three:


    Investigations Together: Pynchon’s Detectives of Incommensurable Mystery


                Immunization in The Crying of Lot 49


                Vineland and the Belated Moment of Welcome to Planet Earth


    Corrupt Pilgrims of Incommensurable Mystery


    Conclusion: Being Nihilistic Together


    Epilogue: Detecting the Genre in Action



    Devin Fromm is a Resident Assistant Professor at Occidental College