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Crime Scenes

Latin American Crime Fiction from the 1960s to the 2010s

Edited By Charlotte Lange and Ailsa Peate

Crime fiction has become a key element in Latin American literature. The rise in production of the genre can be explained by an urgency to explore issues of morality in societies which incorporate varying levels of censorship and corruption. Through a focus on the concept of the crime scene itself, this book identifies and interrogates some of the principal developments in contemporary Latin American crime fiction. In ten chapters which cover Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, and generic diversity which spans police procedurals, narcoliteratura, postmodern detection, and historical portrayals of crimes, the authors investigate how the crime scene – which has always been central to the genre and its subgenres – critiques local and global issues, including social injustice, discrimination, neoliberalism, violence, identity, corruption, and memory.

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4 Collective Culpability in Costa Rica: The Case of Quince Duncan’s Kimbo (Liz Harvey-Kattou)


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4 Collective Culpability in Costa Rica: The Case of Quince Duncan’s Kimbo


Despite Costa Rica’s peaceful rhetoric, Quince Duncan’s 1989 novel, Kimbo, portrays civil society as so corrupt it would rather condemn and kill an innocent man than admit to individual faults. This article therefore considers the nation as a crime scene in Kimbo, whereby the State and its deputies are the perpetrators of several crimes. Using Antonio Gramsci’s and Louis Althusser’s concepts of the State, civil society and subaltern to discuss the idea of a nationwide, collective culpability, it analyses the roles played by the ‘voices’ versus the ‘voiceless’ in the novel. It argues that the former group incorporates Repressive State Apparatus and Ideological State Apparatus, such as the police, judiciary and the Catholic Church, while the latter comprises marginalized groups such as Afro–Costa Ricans, women and the poor.

Having abolished its armed forces in 1948, Costa Rica – often dubbed the ‘Switzerland of Central America’ for its love of peace (Christian 2013: 1600) – has long been proud of its political stability, relative economic prosperity and peaceful existence, especially in comparison to its Central American neighbours. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that relatively few works which could be termed crime fiction have been published in the country.1 Indeed, novels such as Carlos Cortés’s Cruz de olvido [Cross of ← 89 | 90 → Oblivion] (1999), a semi-fictional account of a series of killings which took place...

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