PDF The Mysteries of the Cities: Urban Crime Fiction in the Nineteenth Century

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About this product Product Information A popular crime genre in the nineteenth century, urban mysteries have largely been ignored ever since. This historical and critical text examines the origins of the innovative genre, which grappled with the rise of enormous, anonymous cities, beginning in France in , then spreading rapidly across the continent and to America and Australia.

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Her argument is clear: the self-control displayed in the face of violent threats shaped a middle-class sense of masculinity. Locating these interesting close readings in, for example, the century-long debate about whether to arm the police might have extended her insights to the relationship between crime and national not just personal identity.

But both of these books prove beyond a reasonable doubt how textual representations of crime provide a crucial site for understanding how individuals define themselves in and against a constantly changing society. She is the author of Detecting the Nation: Fictions of Detection and the Imperial Venture as well as several articles on Victorian literature of empire, Victorian periodicals and contemporary female detective fiction. She is currently at work on a book-length manuscript about serialized fiction and Victorian national identity.

Crime Fiction since Detection, Death, Diversity. The Cambridge Companion to Anthony Trollope. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, ISBN: Balfour, ed. Culture, Capital and Representation. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, Second Edition. New York: Palgrave, Review of [Stephen Knight. Ian Ousby writes,. Hard-boiled fiction would have happened anyway, even if Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers [ The impetus came from the conditions of American life and the opportunities available to the American writer in the s.

The economic boom following the First World War combined with the introduction of Prohibition in to encourage the rise of the gangster.

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The familiar issues of law and lawlessness in a society determined to judge itself by the most ideal standards took on a new urgency. At the same time, the pulp magazines were already exploiting a ready market for adventure stories—what Ronald Knox would have called "shockers"—which made heroes of cowboys, soldiers, explorers and masked avengers.

It took no great leap of imagination for them to tackle modern crime and detection, fresh from the newspaper headlines of the day, and create heroes with the same vigour [ Another author who enjoyed writing about the sleazy side of life in the U. In his novel Solomon's Vineyard , private eye Karl Craven aims to rescue a young heiress from the clutches of a weird cult.

Apart from being an action-packed thriller, the novel contains open references to the detective's sex drive and allusions to, and a brief description of, kinky sexual practices. The novel was considered "too hot" for Latimer's American publishers and was not published until in a heavily Bowdlerized version. The unexpurgated novel came out in Britain during the Second World War. The hardboiled phenomenon appeared slightly earlier than the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Large mainstream book companies published crime fiction during World War II, presaging a similar entry into the science fiction market in the s.


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Several hardboiled heroes have been war veterans. In Bulldog Drummond's first appearance he is a bored ex-serviceman seeking adventure, Spillane's Mike Hammer avenges an old buddy who saved his life on Guadalcanal. The frequent exposure to death and hardship often leads to a cynical and callous attitude as well as a character trait known today as post-traumatic stress characterizes many hardboiled protagonists. Over the decades, the detective story metamorphosed into the crime novel see also the title of Julian Symons ' history of the genre. Starting with writers like Francis Iles , who has been described as "the father of the psychological suspense novel as we know it today," more and more authors laid the emphasis on character rather than plot.

Up to the present, lots of authors have tried their hand at writing novels where the identity of the criminal is known to the reader right from the start. The suspense is created by the author having the reader share the perpetrator's thoughts—up to a point, that is—and having them guess what is going to happen next for example, another murder, or a potential victim making a fatal mistake , and if the criminal will be brought to justice in the end.

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A Shock to the System is about a hitherto law-abiding business manager's revenge which is triggered by his being passed over for promotion, and the intricate plan he thinks up to get back at his rivals. Boy in the Water is the psychological study of a man who, severely abused as a child, is trying to get back at the world at large now that he has the physical and mental abilities to do so. As a consequence of his childhood trauma , the killer randomly picks out his victims, first terrifying them and eventually murdering them.

But Boy in the Water also traces the mental states of a group of people who happen to get in touch with the lunatic, and their reactions to him. Apart from the emergence of the psychological thriller and the continuation of older traditions such as the whodunnit and the private eye novel, several new trends can be recognised.

Historical background and development of the crime fiction genre

One of the first masters of the spy novel was Eric Ambler , whose unsuspecting and innocent protagonists are often caught in a network of espionage , betrayal and violence and whose only wish is to get home safely as soon as possible. Spy thrillers continue to fascinate readers even if the Cold War period is over now.


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Another development is the courtroom novel which, as opposed to courtroom drama, also includes many scenes which are not set in the courtroom itself but which basically revolves around the trial of the protagonist, who claims to be innocent but cannot yet prove it. Quite a number of U. But there are also authors who specialise in historical mysteries—novels which are set in the days of the Roman Empire, in medieval England, the United States of the s and 40s, or whenever see historical whodunnit -- and even in mysteries set in the future.

Remarkable examples can be found in any number of Philip K. Dick 's stories or novels.

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LGBT has also left its mark on the genre of crime fiction. Numerous private eyes—professionals as well as amateurs—are now women, some of them lesbians. Tally McGinnis, for example, is the young gay heroine of a series of novels by U. Lawson is a university teacher and an amateur sleuth. In Full Stop , she stops over at New York and is quickly devoured by the city. By far the richest field of activity though has been the police novel.

As opposed to hard-boiled crime writing, which is set in the mean streets of a big city, Last Seen Wearing In contrast to armchair detectives such as Dr.

Crime Fiction in the City

Ford and his men never hold back information from the reader. By way of elimination, they exclude all the suspects who could not possibly have committed the crime and eventually arrive at the correct conclusion, a solution which comes as a surprise to most of them but which, due to their painstaking research, is infallible. The novel certainly is a whodunnit, but all the conventions of the cosy British variety are abandoned.

A lot of reasoning has to be done by the police though, including the careful examination and re-examination of all the evidence available. Waugh's police novel lacks "action" in the form of dangerous situations from which the characters can only make a narrow escape, but the book is nonetheless a page-turner of a novel, with all the suspense for the readers created through their being able to witness each and every step the police take in order to solve the crime.