Crime Fiction

This section of Crimeculture includes introductions to many different aspects of crime and detective fiction, from the Victorian detective novel to the contemporary graphic novel.  The crimeculture site also includes numerous articles on crime and detective fiction.

Our main introductory sections are:

Victorian Detective Fiction

victorianChristopher Pittard’s analysis of the emergence of the detective story as a distinct genre in the nineteenth century, taking in the work of a large range of writers, including Vidocq, William Russell, Poe, Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Fergus Hume, Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, Grant Allen and L T Meade. Go to Victorian Detective Fiction


Classic Detective Fiction

A brief overview of the origins and development of classic detective fiction, at present providing brief discussions of the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Arthur Morrison and R. Austin Freeman, and of the post-World War I “Golden Age” (e.g., Christie and Sayers). Go to Classic Detective Fiction

Classic American Hard-boiled Crime Fiction

An introduction to the growth of hard-boiled crime fiction in the 1920s and 1930s, with a brief discussion of the historical background and sections on Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Horace McCoy, James M. Cain, W.R. Burnett and Paul Cain. Go to American Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction

The Era of Paperback Originals

thompsonA brief discussion of the post-World War Two American paperback boom, and of the influence of McCarthyism in ‘the paranoid fifties’; amongst the writers included in this section are Mickey Spillane, David Goodis, Gil Brewer, Leigh Brackett and Jim Thompson. Go to The Era of Paperback Originals

Supplementary articles

Black Protest in the Mid-Century American Crime Novel

Fatal Women in the Hard-Boiled Fifties

Brit Grit

An introduction to British crime fiction outside the tradition of the classic detective story, starting with Greene and Ambler in the 1930s, and going on to glance at post-World War Two ‘mushroom publishing’, at Ted Lewis and Get Carter, and at the ‘New Wave’ British crime writing that has flourished since the 1980s. Go to Brit Grit

SPECIAL FEATURE, February 2010

French Crime Fiction

Sue Neale’s discussion of French crime fiction, from Vidocq to Daniel Pennac and Fred Vargas.  This is our first foray into European writing, and we would be very pleased to have offers of further articles or sections on non-Anglo-American crime fiction. Go to French Crime Fiction

American Crime Writing 1970-2000

mosleyAn introduction to American crime writing of the past three decades,
summarizing key themes in contemporary American noir; amongst writers included are James Ellroy, Edward Bunker, Geroge V. Higgins, Loren Estleman, James Lee Burke, James Crumley, Walter Mosley, Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. Go to American Crime Writing 1970-2000

Supplementary articles ~ Katharine Horsley and Lee Horsley, Mères Fatales: Maternal Guilt in the Noir Crime Novel (available at online site of Modern Fiction Studies 45.2, Summer 1999) & Lee Horsley, Founding Fathers: ‘Genealogies of Violence’ in James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet

Serial Killer Fiction

David Schmid’s concise overview of the diverse and expanding field of serial killer fiction, tracing its history and considering the links between fiction and non-fiction. This essay is supplemented by Serial Killer Non-Fiction, in the True Crime section of the site. Go to Serial Killer Fiction

Graphic Crime Fiction

Arthur Fried’s detailed discussion of ‘Crime Fiction in Comic Strips, Comic Books and Graphic Novels’. Go to Graphic Crime Fiction


Crimeculture’s coverage of fiction is extended in our Articles section:  contributions currently available on the site discuss, amongst other things, the Sherlock Holmes stories; the fiction of Paul Auster, Graham Greene, Edward Anderson, James M. Cain, David Goodis, Chester Himes, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, Marc Behm, Nicholas Blincoe, Patricia Cornwell, Sarah Paretsky, Helen Zahavi; William Gibson’s ‘future noir’; and the postmodern detective novels of Bret Easton Ellis, William Hjortsberg and Umberto Eco.   There are editorial supplements on James Ellroy’s LA Quartet, on black protest in mid-century crime writing and on femmes fatales in the hard-boiled thrillers of the 1950s.  The critical approaches explored include feminist, psychoanalytic, historicist and deconstructive.

The 21st-Century Crime section contains interviews with Ian Rankin, Jack O’Connell, Jason Starr and Charlie Stella; reviews of the noir crime novels of Charlotte Carter, Jason Starr, Charlie Stella, Kevin Wignall, Charlie Williams and Allan Guthrie; and several review articles – ‘Past Crimes’, ‘Goodfellas and Party Monsters’, ‘Book to Film and Back’, ‘Nightmare Alley’ and lots more.