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When did crime fiction change?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:51 pm    Post subject: When did crime fiction change?  Reply with quote

The 'golden age' of crime fiction is thought of as when women writers were supreme - Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh etc. Perhaps Sherlock Holmes fits there too.  But crime writing today is much darker and often known as 'noir'.  And I don't even read the most gruesome of these.  

But I was wondering who was the first author (s) to change from the closed-in story with a limited cast to the more open possibilities of the serial killer (I find serial killers very boring in books really; they usually are rather shadowy figures without a real personality).  Or people like Ann Cleeves or even Peter Robinson and Graham Hurley.  The Scandinavian writers.

There must have been a first writer or group of writers who began this format.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, Caro.  Possibly several strands of detective fiction co-exist at any given time.

I mentioned in another thread that P.D. James in her book, "Talking About Detective Fiction", saw those writers, such as Val McDermid and Patricia Cornwell, who have graphic gory details in their books as being in the gothic genre rather then the detective genre.

In this aspect they might be seen as returning to the roots of detective fiction as some critics say detective fiction sprung from the gothic genre because before the police force came into existence, in literature evil-doers were usually hunted down by ghosts.

Another theory often put forward by critics is that British fiction tends towards the manor house or closed community genre as we live on an island whereas American detective literature tends more towards the metropolis and the idea that the killer is out there among the teeming masses.  

I'm afraid I don't know much about Scandi detective fiction to make any generalisations about it.

I'm not sure if this is any help.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will be hard to pin down anyone as being the first to mention a serial killer as a defining criminal in detective fiction. What could said is that the closed-in story had run its course sometime in the thirties. So I think Sandraseahorse has made the good point that the gothic genre has led to the frightening spectre of the serial killer.
I also found it worth re-reading an article from the BBC that county_lady posted seven years ago.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm hardly an expert in the field, but there are a lot of sub-genres within Crime, with perhaps the first obvious split in the 20th century between the 'golden age' type story (often a closed-room mystery, or a village murder or suchlike) and the more urban 'hard boiled' style, which developed in the US in the 1920s. To quote wikipedia,
The style was pioneered by Carroll John Daly in the mid-1920s, popularized by Dashiell Hammett over the course of the decade, and refined James M. Cain and by Raymond Chandler beginning in the late 1930s

The next big development was the "police procedural", which evolved from the 1940s. Ed McBain is the best-known pioneer. The procedural focuses less on the lone detective and more on police teamwork. There's some debate whether Simenon's Maigret fits into this category or not, but certainly Sjowall and Wahloo (writing in Sweden from 1965) pushed the genre to a new level of realism with their Martin Beck novels. Per Wahloo (like Simenon before him) had worked as a crime reporter, and had a good understanding of police work in the real world. The Beck novels strongly influenced later writers such as Henning Mankell, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.
I wouldn't say Scandi-noir was focused on gore particularly; it's more about exposing the ills of modern society within the framework of a mystery story. Several authors have commented that Crime is an excellent genre for cutting right through the social strata from the very top to the very bottom, in a way that other genres often fail to do.[/quote]

Cheers, Mike
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