Race and Religion in the Postcolonial British Detective Story

Ten Essays

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About the Book

In 1929, Ronald Knox, a prominent member of the English Detection Club, included in his tongue-in-cheek Ten Commandments for Detective Novelists the rule that “No Chinaman must figure in the story.” In 1983, Ruth Rendell published Speaker of Mandarin, reflecting not only a change in British detective fiction but also a dramatic change in the British cultural landscape. Like much of the rest of British popular culture, the detective novel became more and more ethnically diverse and populated by characters with increasingly varied religious backgrounds.
Ten essays examine the changing nature of British detective fiction, focusing on the shifting view of “otherness” of such authors as Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, Peter Ackroyd, Caroline Graham, Christopher Brookmyer, Denise Mina and John Mortimer. Unlike their American counterparts, British detective writers have been until recently, overwhelmingly white, and the essays here explore how these authors delve into ethnic diversity within a historically homogeneous culture. Religion has also played an important role in the genre, ranging from the moral certainty of the early part of the 20th century to the skepticism and hostility that is part of contemporary fiction. How this transition was made and how it reflects the changing nature of British culture are detailed here.

About the Author(s)

Julie H. Kim is a professor of English at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She teaches and publishes in early modern British and contemporary British and American literatures.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Julie H. Kim
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2175-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Murder and the Other      1

1. Those Other Villagers: Policing Englishness in Caroline Graham’s The Killings at Badger’s Drift      13
2. A Nice Point of Blood: Race and Religion in Rumpole’s Return      29
3. Relocating the Heart of Darkness in Ruth Rendell      51
4. Detecting Empire from Inside-Out and Outside-In: The Politics of Detection in the Fiction of Elizabeth George and Lucha Corpi      71
5. Deliver Us to Evil: Religion as Abject Other in Elizabeth George’s A Great Deliverance      96
6. Missing Persons and Multicultural Identity: The Case of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir      119
7. “At the Threshold of Eternity”: Religious Inversion in Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor      138
8. Ian Rankin and the God of the Scots      164
9. Gender and Ethnic Otherness in Selected Novels by Ann Granger, Cath Staincliffe and Alma Fritchley      189
10. Putting the “Black” into “Tartan Noir”      211

About the Contributors      239
Index      241

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Interesting…a very intelligent and well-argued essay from Brian Diemert on Ian Rankin…accessible and readable…intriguing…an invaluable addition to the bookshelves of universities and for those interested in critical studies of the genre”—Reviewing The Evidence
  • “Praiseworthy”—Journal of Modern Literature