Combining theoretical and practical approaches, this collection of essays explores classic detective fiction from a variety of contemporary viewpoints. Among the diverse perspectives are those which interrogate the way the genre reflects important social and cultural attitudes, contributes to a reader’s ability to adapt to the challenges of daily life, and provides alternate takes on the role of the detective as an investigator and arbiter of truth.
Part I looks at the nature of and the audience for detective fiction, as well as at the genre as a literary form. This section includes an inquiry into the role of the detective; an application of object-relations psychology to the genre; and analyses of recent literary criticism positing that traditional detective fiction contained the seeds of its own subversion. Part II applies a variety of theoretical positions to Agatha Christie and her heirs in the British ratiocinative tradition. A concluding essay positions the genre within the middle-class traditions of the novel since its inception in the eighteenth century. Of interest to all scholars and students of detective fiction and British popular culture.