This collection establishes new perspectives on the idea of mystery, as it is enacted and encoded in the genre of detective fiction. Essays reclaim detective fiction as an object of critical inquiry, examining the ways it shapes issues of social destabilization, moral ambiguity, reader complicity, intertextuality, and metafiction. Breaking new ground by moving beyond the critical preoccupation with classification of historical types and generic determinants, contributors examine the effect of mystery on literary forms and on readers, who experience the provocative, complex process of coming to grips with the unknown and the unknowable. This volume opens up discussion on publically acclaimed, modern works of mystery and on classic pieces, addressing a variety of forms including novels, plays, graphic novels, television series, films, and ipad games. Re-examining the interpretive potential of a genre that seems easily defined yet has endless permutations, the book closely analyzes the cultural function of mystery, the way it intervenes in social and political problems, as well as the literary properties that give the genre its particular shape. The volume treats various texts as meaningful subjects for critical analysis and sheds new light on the interpretive potential for a genre that creates as much ambiguity as it does clarity. Scholars of mystery and detective fiction, crime fiction, genre studies, and cultural studies will find this volume invaluable.
Introduction Casey Cothran and Mercy Cannon Part I: Disturbing Expectations 1. Troubling Bodies of Evidence: Gender, Detection, and Epistemological Uncertainty in Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake and Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods Andrew M. Hakim 2. The Imprint in Print: Tattoos, Women, and Nineteenth-Century Crime Narratives Kate Watson 3. This isn’t the sort of place you’d get a body!’: The Typology of Places and the Establishment and Subversion of Expectations in Golden Age Detective Fiction Brittain Bright Part II: Implicating Readers 4. Unnatural Desire in a Malformed World: Lawlessness and the Extralegal Detective Zea Miller 5. ‘But what’s one more murder?’: Bernie Gunther, the Nazis, and the Holocaust Anthony Lake 6. P.D. James’s Discontinuous Narrative: Continuing to Find Suitable Jobs Janice Marion Shaw 7. Franz Kafka and the Fictional Process David Ben-Merre Part III: Indicting Cultures 8. J.D. Robb’s Police Procedurals and the Critique of Modernity Srividhya Swaminathan 9. Cooking the Books: Metafictional Myth and Ecocritical Magic in "Cozy" Mysteries from Agatha Christie to Contemporary Cooking Sleuths Susan Rowland 10. Beyond the Fog: Contemporary Noir and Cultural Critique in Inherent Vice Eleanor Gold Part IV: Adapting Forms 11. The Intertextuality of James M. Cain’s Snyder-Gray Novels: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and The Cocktail Waitress Jennie MacDonald 12. Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap and Tom Stoppard’s Real Inspector Hound: Playing Cat and Mouse with Farce, Parody, and Meta-Theatricality Caroline Marie 13. The Mystery of the Missing Formula: Genre Adaptation, Interactivity, and the World’s Most Popular Girl Detective Beth Walker