Marcia Muller and the Female Private Eye

Essays on the Novels That Defined a Subgenre

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About the Book

In 1977, Marcia Muller invaded the all-male domain of detective literature and within a decade was established as the mother of the female hardboiled private eye. She is now the author of four detective series, including the critically acclaimed Sharon McCone series of more than two dozen novels.
This collection critically assesses Marcia Muller’s writing and reevaluates current critical views on women’s detective fiction in general. In the first two of the book’s three sections, essays explore Muller’s engagement with modern and postmodern feminism, ethnicity, and the socially underprivileged. The third section focuses on one of Muller’s major themes, the trauma of history. Drawing from the feminist, historicist, mythic, psychoanalytic, and cultural approaches found in all three sections, the conclusion offers a panoramic perspective on Muller’s accomplishments.

About the Author(s)

Alexander N. Howe is an assistant professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia. He has written on Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and Marcia Muller. He lives in Wheaton, Maryland.
Christine A. Jackson, a professor of humanities at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction (2002).

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Alexander N. Howe and Christine A. Jackson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 203
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3825-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8090-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Re-Reading Marcia Muller—Gender, Genre, and the Trauma of Interpretation

(ALEXANDER N. HOWE)      1

Part I: Gender

1. Changing the World, One Detective at a Time: The Feminist Ethos of Marcia Muller and Sharon McCone

(WINTER S. ELLIOTT)      13

2. Crime, Punishment, and Some Change in the McCone Series

(CHIN-JAU CHYAN)      27

3. Imagining the Margins: Muller’s Explorations of Race

(MAUREEN T. REDDY)      39

4. Gender and Genre Stretching in the Non-McCone Novels

(PAMELA E. BEDORE)      50

Part II: Genre

5. Taking Edwin to Lunch: Developing the Female Hard-Boiled Detective in the Early McCone Novels

(PATRICIA P. BUCKLER)      69

6. Sharon McCone: From PI to Anti-Terrorist

(PRISCILLA L. WALTON)      79

7. Searching for the Past: Nostalgia in the McCone Novels

(KELLY C. CONNELLY)      92

8. The Journey of Sharon McCone, Private Investigator

(PATRICIA L. MAIDA)      106

Part III: Trauma

9. Anxious Authorship: The Detective Fiction of Marcia Muller and Gertrude Stein

(JESSICA V. DATEMA)      121

10. The Lost Child: Haunting Motif in the McCone Novels

(HARRIETTE C. BUCHANAN)      133

11. Muller Earth: Mythic Topography in the Soledad County Trilogy

(CHRISTINE A. JACKSON)      148

12. The Deafening Silence of the McCone Series

(ALEXANDER N. HOWE)      164

Conclusion: Marcia Muller in the American Tradition: Still Breaching Our Insecurities

(CHRISTINE A. JACKSON)      179

About the Contributors      187

Index      189

Book Reviews & Awards

“of special value”—Choice.