The anatomy of the detective novel
educational resourceposted on 10.08.2018, 09:30 by Pauline E.M. Larkins
There are several types of crime fiction. This thesis is concerned with one type only, the detective story. As this term has been used rather loosely by publishers, reviewers, critics and librarians, the first part of this chapter has been devoted to a discussion of its meaning and its relationship with the novel. This is followed by a brief history of the genre, within the limits defined. Librarians have made several efforts to devise a classification scheme for fiction. Even the most general scheme will break down in practice, because a novel may have more than one facet. An historical romance may include a mystery: ‘The talisman ring’ by Georgette Heyer; an adventure story may have an element of detection: ‘The day of the jackal’ by Frederick Forsyth; a detective story may also belong to science fiction: ‘The naked sun’ by I. Asimov; and a crime novel may have a strong love interest: ‘Gaudy night’ by Dorothy L. Sayers. In the realm of crime fiction there are similar problems. For example, ‘The moonstone’, ‘Gaudy night’ and the historical stories of John Dickson Carr have all been called detective stories, but they could equally well be considered as romances. For the purpose of this thesis, therefore, it is necessary to provide a working definition of "detective story" and, as far as possible, to disentangle it from the other forms of fiction with which it is often confused, and with which it sometimes blends; these include the mystery story, the thriller and the crime novel.
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