Posts Tagged: detective novel
The books we read in childhood don’t always hold up to our memories of them. Sometimes it’s just a matter of juvenile or bad writing, but other times, it’s the author’s prejudices that turn us off as adults—and classic detective stories can be particularly troublesome:
Chesterton’s glorious evocations of light, landscape, and unnerving, lurid strangeness remain compelling.
Fears of mistaken identity and unconscious slips were crystallized in the literature of detection but emerged from a broad range of hermeneutic practices across the era, at a time in which those in power considered the borders of empire and boundaries of racial identity to be insecure.
Like a detective novel, these books are characterized by a central mystery and the process of detection that leads to solving that mystery. The mystery, however, is not a crime—it’s a life. A person, usually only tangentially related to the subject (the latter is often deceased), becomes engrossed in the discovery of this person’s life, and in the best of the genre we also discover more about the detective’s self along the way.
While the novels’ detective protagonists pick their way with varying success through a maze of vexing people and circumstances, readers navigates their own tangled maze of contradictory conventions as the narratives hop from genre to genre, toying with readers’ expectations.
When the judges of a lucrative “debut-detective-novel writing contest” chose Alaric Hunt’s murder mystery Cuts Through Bone, they didn’t realize it was written in prison by an actual murderer.
Click here to read a New York Times Magazine piece about Hunt’s crime, his novel, and what Minotaur Press decided to do with a criminal’s crime novel....more