Medieval Crime Fiction

A Critical Overview

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About the Book

Combining elements of medievalism, the historical novel and the detective narrative, medieval crime fiction capitalizes upon the appeal of all three—the most famous examples being Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (one of the best-selling books ever published) and Ellis Peters’ endearing Brother Cadfael series. Hundreds of other novels and series fill out the genre, in settings ranging from the so-called Celtic Enlightenment in seventh-century Ireland to the ruthless Inquisition in fourteenth-century France to the mean streets of medieval London. The detectives are an eclectic group, including weary ex-crusaders, former Knights Templar, enterprising monks and nuns, and historical poets such as Geoffrey Chaucer. This book investigates the enduring popularity of the largely unexamined genre and explores its social, cultural and political contexts.

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About the Author(s)

Anne McKendry is a Research Associate at the University of Melbourne. She has published on medieval literature and medievalist popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

Anne McKendry
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 275
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6671-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3625-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Introduction 1
One. Genres and Origins 13
Two. Soiled Knights and Medieval Mean Streets 44
Three. Divine Ratiocination 89
Four. An Unsuitable Job for a Medieval Woman 120
Five. “There are no Jews in England” 167
Six. Poet or PI? 195
Conclusion 232
Appendix: Authors, with Characters and Settings 241
Chapter Notes 245
Works Cited 250
Index 261

Book Reviews & Awards

• Finalist, Edgar Allan Poe Award—Mystery Writers of America

• “Anne McKendry’s delightful and thorough analysis of [Medieval crime fiction] provides both a historical background to the genre and an incredibly useful overview of authors and themes that have emerged with in the field of ‘narratives featuring crime and mystery’ that are ‘solved by a detective during the European Middle Ages.’…very engaging”—Smart – Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching