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Crime Scenes

Modern Crime Fiction in an International Context


Urszula Elias and Agnieszka Sienkiewicz-Charlish

Crime Scenes: Modern Crime Fiction in an International Context examines the ways in which crime fiction has developed over several decades and in several national literary traditions. The volume covers a wide spectrum of current interests and topical concerns in the field of crime fiction studies. It introduces twenty-four original essays by an international group of scholars divided among three main sections: «Genres», «Authors and Texts» and «Topics». Issues discussed include genre syncretism, intertextuality, sexuality and gender, nationhood and globalization, postcolonial literature and ethical aspects of crime fiction.
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Arco van Ieperen



Hard-boiled detective fiction is traditionally the playground of tough male protagonists who operate in a male-dominated world of crime and corruption. Authors such as Carroll John Daly and Dashiell Hammett primarily cast their female characters in supporting roles in order to provide a victim, a culprit or an ornament to the plot. The language that the detectives and their adversaries use is that of the street, full of colloquial expressions and crude expletives. People are readily classified and depicted with descriptive nomenclature that is frequently far from flattering and more often than not insulting. This is especially true for female characters who are commonly labeled as “dame,” “babe,” “fluff,” or “hussy” by their male contemporaries and repeatedly addressed with the patronizing “darling” or “sweetheart.”

The romantic prose style of Raymond Chandler softened this patriarchal and hegemonic tone, a process that was continued through the psychological and paternal approach of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer. It was not until the early 1970s, however, that a male private eye arose with an egalitarian approach to female, if not feminist, matters and who devoted attention to the intrinsic meaning of the language used to describe the people around him. The publication of Robert Parker’s novel The Godwulf Manuscript, featuring his detective protagonist Spenser, “signaled the beginning of the hard-boiled renaissance” (Panek 7). Dennis Lehane claims that Parker’s Spenser series was “pioneering” in the sense that the detective has a girlfriend who is a professional woman and is “a polarizing figure...

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