1st Edition

Return to the Scene of the Crime The Returnee Detective and Postcolonial Crime Fiction

By Kamil Naicker Copyright 2024

    A crime novel, at once disturbing and perversely comforting, factually has been known to curtail social anxieties through the ‘open and shut case’ of its narrative form. But what happens to that form in a world where guilt and innocence are not easily assigned?

    Return to the Scene of the Crime takes place on the trope of an investigator returning to the post-colony on a quest for knowledge. In tandem with solving the case, they must also grapple with the complexities of their origins. Kamil Naicker shows how five authors defy generic expectations to illustrate the complexities of personal identity, transitional justice, and civil violence in the post-colonial world. Congregating novels set in South Africa, China, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Somalia, this book intervenes in literary studies by bringing the trend of the returnee figure and exploring the possibilities of world-making through the explosion of a familiar form.

    Print edition not for sale in Sub Saharan Africa.



    1 A Case of Arrested Development: Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans

    2 Investigating the Pathologist: Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost

    3 Death of an Idea: Francisco Goldman’s The Long Night of White Chickens

    4 A Foreign Country: Gillian Slovo’s Red Dust

    5 Hijacked Narrative: Nuruddin Farah’s Crossbones


    Select Bibliography



    Kamil Naicker is lecturer in English Literature at the University of the Western Cape. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and an MA from the University of Leeds. Return to the Scene of the Crime is her debut.