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By Charles J. Rzepka

A Companion to Crime Fiction offers 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 crew of best students around the globe make this Companion the definitive advisor to crime fiction
  • Follows the advance of the style from its origins within the eighteenth century via to its exceptional modern popularity
  • Features  full-length serious essays at the most vital 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 motivated the field
  • Includes huge references to the main updated scholarship, and a entire bibliography

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The moral ambivalence of Hammett’s other protagonists is even more marked. Both the Continental Op and Ned Beaumont occupy positions midway between criminality and legitimacy. ” Among these “negative” hard-boiled novels, Red Harvest might be described as “hard-boiled fiction’s first auto-critique” (Breu 2005: 55–7). The Op’s frenzy of cleansing and retribution reveals the limits and costs of detached, amoral hard-boiled agency. Beaumont, though he fulfills an investigative function, is actually a gambler, a henchman, a political hanger-on rather than a private eye, and Black Mask’s editor felt compelled to defend the inclusion of as criminally oriented a story as The Glass Key, arguing that it exposed the serious danger to the body politic caused by alliances between corrupt politicians, public officials and organized crime.

In the Mémoires it is less Vidocq the detective and agent of the law that interests the reader than Vidocq the criminal, with his trickery and disguises, and in this sense the narrative is closely akin to the criminal biographies. Employing Vidocq’s criminal skills on behalf of the law was effective, but his criminal past and methods tainted his reputation and he was eventually forced to resign in 1827 after accusations of impropriety were made against him, allegations that seem to be supported by the nearly half million francs he had managed to amass over his 15 years of service with an average salary of five thousand francs per annum (Vidocq 2003: xii).

Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective is a global phenomenon: there are international societies dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, a Sherlock Holmes Museum in London, and he has been immortalized in plays, films, and on television. His “cases” have been subjected to analysis by literary critics and by amateur enthusiasts. He is the archetypal detective whose influence can still be seen in modern crime fiction and his representation is the culmination of the development of the crime fiction genre over the nineteenth century.

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