Volume 38, number 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection, guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna), has been published on the theme "Genre B(l)ending: Crime's Hybrid Forms." Below are the abstracts for the issue. Contact McFarland to order the issue or a Clues subscription.
Introduction: Make It New, but Don’t Forget / MAURIZIO ASCARI (University of Bologna)
G. K. Chesterton’s Postmodern Anti-Detective Story: Generic Innovation
and Transgression in “The White Pillars Murder” / NILS CLAUSSON (University of Regina, Canada)
G. K. Chesterton’s undervalued story “The White Pillars Murder” anticipates the postmodern anti-detective story in the way it transgresses the conventions of the Holmes-style analytic detective story and subversively introduces political critique into a genre, the Golden Age country house mystery, widely regarded as either apolitical or conservative.
Murder, Mayhem, and Madness: John Dickson Carr’s Gothic Detective Stories / STEFANO SERAFINI (University of Toronto)
This essay investigates the contact zones between gothic and detective fiction within the early work of the significant yet largely neglected author John Dickson Carr. By revealing the transgressive and contaminated character of his narratives, this essay also provides a more nuanced picture of interwar crime-writing, the literary boundaries of which were constantly violated and renegotiated.
The Cowboy and the Detective: The Case of Craig Johnson / ANTOINE DECHÊNE
This essay focuses on Craig Johnson’s charismatic protagonist Walt Longmire, the county sheriff of Absaroka, Wyoming. A cowboy-detective par excellence, Longmire embodies the interrelationship between the Western and detective fiction while offering a good example of “glocal literature”—that is, a form of literature that is both global and local.
James Church’s A Corpse in the Koryo and His Inspector O Series: A Noir/Spy Thriller Hybrid Set in North Korea / DAVID C. WRIGHT JR. (Misericordia University)
Analysis of A Corpse in the Koryo, the first book in the Inspector O series by James Church, shows that this series featuring a North Korean detective constitutes a successful genre hybrid: a hard-boiled detective thriller, à la Raymond Chandler, combined with a spy novel in the style of John le Carré.
Laughter in Crime: The Mechanics of Laughter in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series / SOLANGE GARNIER-FOX (American University)
The author examines how Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series works alongside hard-boiled and soft-boiled conventions to create a hybrid formula of genres seemingly at odds with detective fiction. By infusing romance, adventure, and comedy in the detective genre, Evanovich creates a new female agency and rewrites US founding myths of the pursuit of happiness and self-realization.
(Super)Natural Healing in Juliet Blackwell’s Haunted Home Renovation Series / RACHEL SCHAFFER (Montana State University Billings)
The ability of Juliet Blackwell’s accidental sleuth, builder Mel Turner, to communicate with ghosts make her an effective healer of historic homes and their past and present residents. Blackwell’s series effectively combines elements of the mystery and supernatural genres to showcase Mel’s ability to tell the stories and heal the trauma of both the living and the dead.
Darkness Speaks”: Blending Domestic Noir, Trauma, and Horror in Minette Walters’s The Cellar / CHARLOTTE BEYER (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
When Minette Walters’s The Cellar was published in 2015, reviewers expressed shock and abhorrence at the novel’s graphic portrayals. The author’s analysis focuses on the novel’s trauma narrative and use of domestic noir to critique the patriarchal family, and interrogates the trafficking victim’s experience through horror and the paranormal.
Dirty Pretty Things: Female Trauma, Self-Mutilation, and Random Acts of Violence in Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects / MALINDA K. HACKETT
The author examines Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects within the context of domestic noir and trauma theory. Drawing on the work of both Cathy Caruth and Ann Whitehead, the author contends that the women who inhabit the domestic space of Flynn’s narrative partake in performative acts of pathology to reject notions of idealized femininity, beauty, and motherhood.
Rethinking Genre Conventions: Exploring Detective Formulas and Autistic Stereotypes in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time / SOOHYUN CHO (Michigan State University)
This essay explores common cultural/social stereotypes about autism, focusing on their intersection with archetypal detective formulas. Focusing on Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it explores how Christopher Boone embodies key traits narratively associated with Sherlock Holmes’s unique mind. This use of a stereotypical characterization enables readers to engage with diverse minds.
Seeking a Solution to the End of the World: Genre Hybridity, Closure, and Mourning in Apocalyptic Detective Fiction / SARAH FRANCE (Newcastle University, UK)
This essay looks to Ben H. Winters’s The Last Policeman (2012) and Hanna Jameson’s The Last (2019) as examples of apocalyptic detective fiction. Here, the generic expectation of detective closure is frustrated by a secular apocalypse, articulating an attempt but ultimately a failure to adequately mourn a future apocalyptic event.
Sheldon Goldfarb. Sherlockian Musings: Thoughts on the Sherlock Holmes Stories / LYNNETTE PORTER
Nathan Ashman. James Ellroy and Voyeur Fiction / DANIEL FULLER
Jesper Gulddal, Stewart King, and Alistair Rolls, eds. Criminal Moves: Modes of Mobility in Crime Fiction / FRED ISAAC
Deborah E. Barker and Theresa Starkey, eds. Detecting the South in Fiction, Film & Television / SARAH D. FOGLE
Kinohi Nishikawa. Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground / CYNTHIA S. HAMILTON
Laura James. The Beauty Defense: Femmes Fatales on Trial /ANNIKA R.P. DEUTSCH
Martina Vránová, Zénó Vernyik, and Dávid Levente Palatinus, eds. Crime and Detection in Contemporary Culture / DAISY COWLEY
Clues Index, Volume 38