By Larry Landrum
Mystery and detective novels are popular fictional genres within Western literature. As such, they provide a wealth of information about popular art and culture. When the genre develops within various cultures, it adopts, and proceeds to dominate, native expressions and imagery. American mystery and detective novels appeared in the late nineteenth century. This reference provides a selective guide to the important criticism of American mystery and detective novels and presents general features of the genre and its historical development over the past two centuries. Critical approaches covered in the volume include story as game, images, myth criticism, formalism and structuralism, psychonalysis, Marxism and more. Comparisons with related genres, such as gothic, suspense, gangster, and postmodern novels, illustrate similarities and differences important to the understanding of the unique components of mystery and detective fiction.
The guide is divided into five major sections: a brief history, related genres, criticism, authors, and reference. This organization accounts for the literary history and types of novels stemming from the mystery and detective genre. A chronology provides a helpful overview of the development and transformation of the genre.
- Westport, CT