Since Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ inaugurated the detective whodunnit in 1841, narratives following the same basic structure have continued to flood the fiction market. This book examines why this form has proved so tenacious, and plots a course through the thousands of crime novels and stories which have appeared since then. Noting differences of form between pure whodunnits concerned with a past crime, and thrillers where we focus on a present action, the book maps such variants onto a series of historical changes, chiefly in Britain and the USA but with some consideration of French and Scandinavian fiction. As well as such classic detective writers as Collins, Doyle, Christie and Chandler, the book explores the Newgate Novel, spy fiction, the noir thriller, postwar police fiction, black and female private eyes, and the serial-killer mode which has swept the field since the 1980s. In this second edition a substantial new chapter has been added, and other chapters have been expanded to include significant new trends in the genre.
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Martin Priestman is Professor of English at Roehampton University London, where he specializes in Romantic period literature as well as crime fiction. He is the author of Detective Fiction and Literature: The Figure on the Carpet (1990) and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction (2003).
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