Blackwell Companion to Crime Fiction

Earlier this year I agreed to write an article on Crime and Detective Literature for Young Readers to appear in the Blackwell Companion to Crime Fiction, edited by Charles Rzepka and Lee Horsley. Last week Charles sent around a reminder about the project and I thought I would bump it to the top here too. I’m working on a piece about A Study in Scarlet at the moment as well as researching my own crime and detective fiction books, so the summary of this project’s aims was a good reminder of how important crime and detective fiction are:

At present, crime fiction comprises one of the largest single categories of popular book sales worldwide and, it is safe to say, constitutes one of the most important popular genres for academic literary study and teaching, especially at the undergraduate level. It has long been, and with the rapid globalization of Western culture and institutions it remains, intimately representative of a post-Enlightenment age of bureaucratized law enforcement, professional specialization, massive urbanization and conurbation, alienation and discontent among groups marginalized by capital accumulation and exploitation, and the universal valorization of individual autonomy. The contiguous disciplinary affiliations of crime fiction study are numerous and varied: history of science and the science of history, philosophy of science, medicine, law, print technology and distribution, mass media and cultural studies, gender theory, narratology, constructions of race, colonial and post-colonial studies, political economy, class-relations, psychoanalysis, and religion, as well as more obvious connections to forensics and criminology. The very ubiquity of the genre of crime in popular culture (from “gangsta rap” to the highly publicized recent conviction of Enron’s white-collar con-men) tends to blind us to its central role as an engine of Western cultural self-construction and authorization.

–Charles Rzepka and Lee Horsley.

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Key Ideas Project Starting

Work for the Key Ideas book is starting to get underway now. The deadline for contributors to submit entries is 29 June but we’ve already begun to receive submissions. It feels a bit strange to be starting on this project before the Cain’s book is finished, but in many ways it’s good to be looking ahead. By the end of June the two should run quite easily alongside each other, but for the time being Key Ideas has to take second place while I complete my first draft.

Given the pressure on time it’s probably not ideal that I’ve just “discovered” an American crime writer called Megan Abbott. I read her first novel Die A Little (2005) last week and went straight out and bought her second, The Song is You (2007). It’s on the table in the house right now and having it there is like putting a chocolate cake in front of a 4 year-old and saying “Don’t touch!”

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100 American Crime Writers

I have just been putting together a website for the 100 American Crime Writers project. Work on this book, which will be published as part of Palgrave’s Crime Files series, will start in the autumn and I’m looking forward to it. For now the site includes information about the project, about the authors, and a couple of preview sample entries. In time we are going to be using it to blog about the writers we are working on as well as building a list of useful links. Visit the 100 American site here.

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