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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Embarking on a New Investigation Casey A. Cothran and Mercy Cannon Part 1: Disturbing Expectations 1. Troubling Bodies of Evidence: Gender, Detection, and the Problems of Self-Reinvention 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 Revelations of the Corpse: Interpreting the Body in the Golden Age Detective Novel Brittain Bright and Rebecca Mills 3. Mapping the Mark: Tattoos, Crime Fiction, and Gendered Cartographies Kate Watson Part 2: Implicating Readers 4. The Transtextuality of James M. Cain’s Snyder-Gray Novels: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and The Cocktail Waitress Jennie MacDonald 5. P.D. James’s Discontinuous Narrative: A Suitable Job for a Reader Janice Marion Shaw 6. Franz Kafka: Before the Fictional Process David Ben-Merre Part 3: Indicting Cultures 7. J.D. Robb’s Police Procedurals and the Critique of Modernity Srividhya Swaminathan 8. Cooking the Books: Metafictional Myth and Ecocritical Magic in "Cozy" Mysteries from Agatha Christie to Contemporary Cooking Sleuths Susan Rowland 9. Romance Narratives, Blackmail, and the Price of Knowledge in the Novels of Raymond Chandler John Scaggs Part 4: Adapting Forms 10. Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap and Tom Stoppard’s Real Inspector Hound: Playing Cat and Mouse with Farce, Parody, and Meta-Theatricality Caroline Marie 11. Beyond the Fog: Inherent Vice and Thomas Pynchon’s Noir Adjustment Eleanor Gold 12. The Mystery of the Missing Formula: Adapting the World’s Most Popular Girl Detective to Multimedia Platforms Beth Walker
Casey Cothran is Assistant Professor of English at Winthrop University, US.
Mercy Cannon is Associate Professor at Austin Peay State University, US.