Murder in the Closet

Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall


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SKU: 9780786499922 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

Before the 1969 Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ life was dominated by the negative image of “the closet”—the metaphorical space where that which was deemed “queer” was hidden from a hostile public view. Literary studies of queer themes and characters in crime fiction have tended to focus on the more positive and explicit representations since the riots, while pre–Stonewall works are thought to reference queer only negatively or obliquely. This collection of new essays questions that view with an investigation of queer aspects in crime fiction published over eight decades, from the corseted Victorian era to the unbuttoned 1960s.

About the Author(s)

Curtis Evans, an independent scholar and book dealer, has published numerous articles and essays on detective fiction as well as an award-winning book on industry and labor in the American South. He lives in Germantown, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Curtis Evans
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9992-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2633-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction (Curtis Evans) 1
Part One: Locked Doors
The Queer Story of Fergus Hume (Lucy Sussex) 18
A Redemptive Masquerade: Gender Identity in Samuel
Hopkins Adams’ The Secret of Lonesome Cove (J. F. Norris) 33
Dropping Hairpins in Golden Age Detective Fiction:
­Man-Haters, Green Carnations and Gunsels (Noah Stewart) 40
“Queer in some ways”: Gay Characters in the Fiction of Agatha Christie (John Curran) 52
Agatha Christie: Norms and Codes (Michael Moon) 67
The Unshockable Mrs. Bradley: Sex and Sexuality in the
Work of Gladys Mitchell (Brittain Bright) 78
“Less beautiful in daylight”: Josephine Tey and the Anxiety
of Gender (J.C. Bernthal) 93
“Mutually devoted”: Female Relationships in Josephine Tey’s
Miss Pym Disposes (Moira Redmond) 106
“The man with the laughing eyes”: Socialism and ­Same-Sex
Desire in G. D. H. Cole’s The Death of a Millionaire (Curtis Evans )114
Humdrum Ecstasies: C. H. B. Kitchin and His Detective,
Malcolm Warren (Michael Moon) 125
“Two young men who write as one”: Richard Wilson Webb,
Hugh Callingham Wheeler, Male Couples and The Grindle
Nightmare (Curtis Evans) 139
Queering the Investigation: Explanation and Understanding
in Todd Downing’s Detective Fiction (Charles J. Rzepka) 156
“A bad, bad past”: Rufus King, Clifford Orr, College Drag
and Detective Fiction (Curtis Evans) 173
Foppish, Effeminate, or “a little too handsome”: Coded
Character Descriptions and Masculinity in the Mystery
Novels of Mignon G. Eberhart (Rick Cypert) 189
Part Two: Skeleton Keys
“The finest triumvirate of perversion, horror and murder
written this spring”: Frank Walford’s Twisted Clay (James Doig) 200
Wayne Lonergan’s Long Shadow: A Forties Murder and Its
Literary Legacy (Drewey Wayne Gunn) 210
“Claude was doing all right”: Homosexuality, ­Hard-Boiled
Crime Fiction and the Evolution of Ross Macdonald (Tom Nolan) 217
“Elegant stuff …⁠ of its sort”: Gore Vidal’s Edgar Box
Detective Novels (Curtis Evans) 225
“Adonis in person”: Same-Sex Intimacy and Male Eroticism in
the Detective Novels of Beverley Nichols (J. F. Norris) 241
More Than Fiction: Troublesome Themes in the Life and Writing
of Nancy Spain (Bruce Shaw) 249
Man to Man: The ­Two-Men Theme in the Novels of Patricia
Highsmith (Nick Jones) 259
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Joseph Hansen’s Known Homosexual (Josh Lanyon) 265
I Am the Most! Camping It Up in George Baxt’s Pharoah
Love Mystery Series (J. F. Norris) 273
About the Contributors 281
Index 285

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Finalist, Edgar Allan Poe Award—Mystery Writers of America
  • “Scholar Curtis Evans has performed Herculean feats shaking up the stodgy world of the detective story and its literature…smart essays”—Lambda Literary
  • “Uncover queer themes in crime fiction written before 1969, from the Victorian era to the 1960s”—ProtoView