Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction


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About the Book

The relationship between traditional myths, fairytales and current fiction novels featuring women as crime-solvers is examined in this critical study. Using theories from Joseph Campbell, C.G. Jung and others, the author asserts that plots and imagery in these novels conform to quest narratives outlined in classical myths and traditional fairytales.
Narcissus, Medusa, Orpheus and Orestes are a few of the figures emerging in today’s mystery fiction. Among the mystery authors discussed are Patricia Cornwell, Amanda Cross, Sue Grafton, P.D. James, Sara Paretsky and Julie Smith. After establishing the anatomy of a mystery, the text discusses many myths, rituals and rites associated with mysteries, including myths of identity, religion and rites of initiation.

About the Author(s)

Christine A. Jackson is an associate professor of liberal arts at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she teaches critical and creative writing and literature. She is also a member of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and sits on the planning committee for SleuthFest, a mystery writers’ conference.

Bibliographic Details

Christine A. Jackson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 185
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1311-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8094-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Anatomy of a Mystery      13
2. Magic and Transformation in Domestic Mysteries      27
3. A Bodiless Dream: Forensic Mysteries and Myths of Identity      49
4. Religion in Mysteries: Of the Essence      67
5. Blood Dues: Rites of Initiation in Career Thrillers      90
6. Tracing the Razor’s Edge      114
7. V.I. and Kinsey: Death and Renewal      130
8. Life Restored      159

Works Cited      163
Index      169