Gender Bending Detective Fiction

A Critical Analysis of Selected Works

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About the Book

Since the middle of the last century, views on gender norms have shifted dramatically. Reflecting these changes, storylines that involve cross-dressing and transgender characters have frequently appeared in detective fiction—characters who subvert the conventions of the genre and challenge reader expectations.
This examination of 20th and 21st century crime novels reveals what these narratives say about gender identity and gender expression and how they contributed to the evolution of detective fiction.

About the Author(s)

Heather Duerre Humann teaches in the Department of Language and Literature at Florida Gulf Coast University. She has contributed essays to edited collections and published articles, reviews and short stories in African American Review, Women’s Studies, South Atlantic Review and Studies in American Culture.

Bibliographic Details

Heather Duerre Humann
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6820-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2841-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction: Dressed to Kill 1

 1. Policing Gender in Mickey Spillane’s I, the Jury and Vengeance Is Mine 29

 2. Uncovering a Double Life in Ruth Rendell’s A Sleeping Life 42

 3. Corporeality, ­Cross-Dressing and a “Cozy” Mystery Novel: Charlotte MacLeod’s The Corpse in Oozak’s Pond 52

 4. Criminality and ­Cross-Dressing in Sue Grafton’s “D” Is for Deadbeat 62

 5. Disguise and Deviance in P.D. James’ Devices and Desires 71

 6. Subverting Stereotypes in Val McDermid’s The Mermaids Singing 85

 7. Transitioning to New Ground in Detective Fiction: Renee James’ Transition to Murder 102

 8. Detecting Gender in Mark SaFranko’s The Suicide 115

 9. The Transgender Presence in Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm 133

10. The Transgender Detective in T.E. Wilson’s Mezcalero: A Detective Sánchez Novel 148

Conclusion: Criminality, Conventions and Concealment in ­Post–World War II Detective Fiction 164

Bibliography 177

Index 187

Book Reviews & Awards

Over the Rainbow Recommended Book List—Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA); “this fascinating study presents an overdue examination of the representation of gender in crime fiction…in-depth study…a welcome and original contribution to crime fiction criticism”—Gender on the Agenda.