The Detective and the Artist

Painters, Poets and Writers in Crime Fiction, 1840s–1970s


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SKU: 9781476677491 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

This book focuses on the distinctive role that artists have played in detective fiction—as detectives, as villains and victims, and as bystanders. With a few significant exceptions, literary detectives have always identified themselves as essentially the deconstructors of the artful crimes of others. They may use various methods—ratiocinative, scientific, or hard-boiled—but they always unravel the threads that the villains have woven into deceptive covers for their crimes.
The detective does, in the end, produce a work of art: a narrative that explains everything that needs explanation. But the detective’s moral work is often juxtaposed to the aesthetic work of the painters, poets, and writers that the detective encounters during an investigation. The author surveys this juxtaposition in works by important authors from the early development of the genre (Poe, Conan Doyle), the golden age (Bentley, Christie, Sayers, James, et al.), and the hard-boiled era (Hammett, Chandler, Macdonald, Spicer et al.).

About the Author(s)

J.K. Van Dover taught in the English Department of Lincoln University for 38 years; he has also taught as a Fulbright Professor of American Literature in Germany, China, Austria, and Slovakia. He has published extensively on detective fiction.

Bibliographic Details

J.K. Van Dover
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7749-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3591-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: Art in the Blood 10
I. The Fine Arts of Murder 17
II. The Art of the Detective 32
III. Artistic Detectives: In the Beginning 44
IV. Art and the Classical Detective Story 69
V. The Classical Detective 76
VI. The ­Hard-Boiled Detective 130
Conclusion 172
Bibliography 179
Index 183

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Van Dover easily connects various artists and detectives from different eras while juxtaposing particular cases with artists involved. This, actually, is one of the best features of the book, as recalling hundreds of novels and fictional characters/artists and acknowledging their unique roles is very impressive”—