Secrets of Crime Fiction Classics

Detecting the Delights of 21 Enduring Stories

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About the Book

Starting with William Godwin’s Caleb Williams and Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly, this book covers in detail the great works of detective fiction—Poe’s Dupin stories, Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Sayers’ Strong Poison, Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and Simenon’s The Yellow Dog. Lesser-known but important early works are also discussed, including Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, Émile Gaboriau’s M. Lecoq, Anna Katharine Green’s The Leavenworth Case and Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
More recent titles show increasing variety in the mystery genre, with Patricia Highsmith’s criminal-focused The Talented Mr. Ripley and Chester Himes’ African-American detectives in Cotton Comes to Harlem. Diversity develops further in Sara Paretsky’s tough woman detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only, Umberto Eco’s medievalist and postmodern The Name of the Rose and the forensic feminism of Patricia Cornwell’s Postmortem. Notably, the best modern crime fiction has been primarily international—Manuel Vásquez Montalbán’s Catalan Summer Seas, Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh-set The Naming of the Dead, Sweden’s Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and Vikram Chanda’s Mumbai-based Sacred Games.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Knight is a well-known authority on crime fiction and literature through the ages. He has worked at universities in Australia, England and Wales and is a research professor in literature at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Stephen Knight
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9398-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1898-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction 3

Part I: Beginnings

1. Caleb Williams, William Godwin 13

2. Edgar Huntly, Charles Brockden Brown 23

3. The Dupin Stories, Edgar Allan Poe 33

4. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins 44

5. Monsieur Lecoq, Ēmile Gaboriau 55

6. The Leavenworth Case, Anna Katharine Green 65

7. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Fergus Hume 76

Part II: Mainstream

8. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle 87

9. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie 97

10. Strong Poison, Dorothy Sayers 107

11. The Yellow Dog, Georges Simenon 117

12. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler 127

13. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith 137

Part III: Diversity

14. Cotton Comes to Harlem, Chester Himes 149

15. Indemnity Only, Sara Paretsky 159

16. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco 169

17. Southern Seas, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán 180

18. The Naming of the Dead, Ian Rankin 190

19. Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell 200

20. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson 210

21. Sacred Games, Vikram Chandra 220

Index 229