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The first anthology of its kind, A Crime Fiction Reader: Craft and Criticism brings together classic and contemporary writings on a genre that is more popular now than it has ever been. It is comprehensive in multiple ways: historically, theoretically, and in terms of its coverage of key authors and traditions within the genre.
The first section, “Defining the Genre,” brings together critical statements about the genre of crime fiction from some of its central practitioners as well some of the most famous early attempts to regulate, critique, or defend the genre. The essays in this section are designed to give students the ability to reconstruct both the history of early debates about the value of crime fiction and the formal and thematic characteristics of the genre that constituted the focus of such debates. The second and third sections, “Key Authors” and "Traditions in Crime Fiction," collect a sample of the most influential critical work about some of the leading writers, traditions and subgenres of crime fiction.
Crime fiction has long been known for attracting critical attention from writers with an enormously wide range of theoretical concerns and affiliations. The fourth and final section, “Theoretical Approaches,” reflects that history and diversity by including samples of critical work from multiple viewpoints, including feminist, Marxist, formalist, post-colonial, and psychoanalytic. This section renders A Crime Fiction Reader suitable not only for classes in crime fiction per se, but also for classes on critical and literary theory that use crime fiction texts to introduce students to a wide range of theoretical issues and positions.