For the past 30 years, the so-called 'Troubles' thriller has been the dominant fictional mode for representing Northern Ireland, leading to the charge that the crudity of this popular genre appropriately reflects the social degradation of the North. Aaron Kelly challenges both these judgments, showing that the historical questions raised by setting a thriller in Northern Ireland disrupt the conventions of the crime novel and allow for a new understanding of both the genre and the country. Two essays on crime fiction by Walter Benjamin and Berthold Brecht appear here for the first time in English translation. By demonstrating the relevance of these theorists as well as other key European thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, and Slavoj Zizek to his interdisciplinary study of Irish culture and the crime novel, Kelly refutes the idea that Northern Ireland is a stagnate anomaly that has been bypassed by European history and remained impervious to cultural transformation. On the contrary, Kelly's examination of authors such as Jack Higgins, Tom Clancy, Gerald Seymour, Colin Bateman, and Eoin McNamee shows that profound historical change and complexity have characterized both Northern Ireland and the thriller form.
’Kelly's monograph is to be welcomed […] for subjecting the formal and ideological dimensions of this variegated literary corpus to systematic, theorized investigation. This absorbing […] study of the 'Troubles' thriller genre significantly expands the critical frameworks within which contemporary Northern Irish fiction can be read.’ Modern Language Review
Contents: Introduction: 'You didn't need a reason to kill people, not here': narrative, the north, and historical agency; 'The green unpleasant land': the political unconscious of the British 'Troubles' thriller; 'And what do you call it?': the thriller and the problematics of home in Northern Irish writing; 'New languages would have to be invented': representations of Belfast and urban space; 'A man could get lost': constructions of gender; 'It's not for the likes of us to philosophize': the pleasure and politics of thrills, or, towards a political aesthetics; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.