By Charles J. Rzepka

A Companion to Crime Fiction provides the definitive consultant to this well known style from its origins within the eighteenth century to the current day

  • A number of forty-seven newly commissioned essays from a group of major students around the globe make this Companion the definitive consultant to crime fiction
  • Follows the advance of the style from its origins within the eighteenth century via to its extra special modern day popularity
  • Features  full-length severe essays at the most important authors and film-makers, from Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashiell Hammett to Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese exploring the ways that they've got formed and stimulated the field
  • Includes wide references to the main updated scholarship, and a entire bibliography

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In The Woman in White Percival Glyde is burnt to death in the fire he has started in order to destroy the evidence of his illegitimate status, and in Lady Audley’s Secret Lady Audley is, as Pykett observes, “sentenced to death-by-boredom in a Belgian maison de santé by her nephew Robert” (Pykett 2003: 35). The sensation novel affords a discursive space for the amateur detective, and importantly this role is not limited to the male. Marion Halcombe proves an effective investigator until she is struck down by illness and replaced by Hartright, while in Collins’s No Name (1862) Magdalen Vanstone actively seeks out the secrets that will enable her to retrieve her inheritance.

While not precisely fitting the model of the “Tales of Terror,” Thomas De Quincey’s two essays, “On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth” (1823) and “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” (1827), which both appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, took as their subject the sensational and real-life Ratcliffe Highway Murders of 1811 in which seven people in two separate households were killed in apparently motiveless acts of violence. While clearly taking a satirical approach to the subject, De Quincey’s elevated style and his use of high literature and philosophy in association with violent crime gave it a kind of literary respectability.

Indd 22 12/14/2009 4:48:40 PM From The Newgate Calendar to Sherlock Holmes 23 bases his detection on newspaper reports rather than empirical investigation; “The Purloined Letter” articulates the need for the detective to be able to put him/herself into the place of the criminal and sets up what Michel Foucault calls “the intellectual struggle between criminal and investigator” (Foucault 1977: 69). Poe wrote only three Dupin stories, and he is perhaps better known for his Gothic-influenced tales of horror and the supernatural, many of which were heavily focused on the mental and physical sensations aroused by extreme states.

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