Month: March 2015

Crime Fiction Series in Sweden before the invention of Nordic Noir

Gebers Kriminal
(With thanks to Kerstin Bergman)

Regarded as the “father of the Swedish police novel”, Vic Suneson (pen name for Sune Lundquist, 1911-1975) published his first five novels in the Gebers kriminalserie,  a series devoted to Crime Fiction. This series, which had been launched by Geber, in Stockholm, in 1947, published both Swedish and translated authors.  Suneson’s  first novel  Mord kring Maud was published in 1948 and precedes immediately in the Series Cornell Woolrich’s, Brud i svart (The Bride Wore Black),  also in 1948. Many other well-known English language authors, such as Ngaio Marsh, Fredric Brown, Carter Dixon, and Ursula Curtiss, are part of this series. Continue reading

A new issue of the Mystery Readers Journal on Scandi Crime Fiction

Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Yay! Mystery Readers Journal has a second special issue on Scandinavian Mysteries out. Check out that tempting table of contents.

Thanks to the kind permission of Janet Rudolph, who moonlights as a perpetual motion machine, I am reprinting an essay I contributed  (also posted at Janet’s Mystery Fanfare blog).

Reparations: World War II in Scandinavian Fiction

Many readers’ perceptions of Scandinavia as a peaceful, socially-progressive region have been shaped by childhood history lessons. Sweden was neutral during World War II. Norwegians bravely resisted German occupation. Finland fought for its independence both from the Soviets and the Nazis. Danes followed their king’s example and wore yellow stars of David to show solidarity with Danish Jews. In fact, these stories are at best half-truths, patriotic narratives that helped Scandinavian countries recover their dignity as they established strong post-war societies.

The reality was messier. Sweden’s iron ore supported German munitions factories and enriched Swedes…

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International Detective Fiction (1927-1966): The Authors

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Mignon Good Eberhart (USA, 1899- 1996)

Crime Fiction is an international genre. It is well-known that several countries have collaborated to its invention. Exchanges  and reciprocal influences between the US (Poe), France (Vidocq, Gaboriau) and England (Wilkie Collins, Conan Doyle), in particular, have been crucial in shaping it in the 19th Century.  Publishers and Magazines have driven the translation of works of  foreign crime fiction, creating international trends and reception patterns.  Publishing industries, in the 20th Century have spread internationally. Continue reading

Punctuating Crime Fiction: a Comparison of 6886 Titles

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 (Total number  of titles with exclamation marks, by series)

The following pie charts represent the  varied use of three types of punctuation signs in the titles of  all the novels published in the three longest series of Crime Fiction in France : Le Masque (Librairie des Champs-Elysées), La Série Noire (Gallimard), and Spécial-Police (Fleuve Noir).  While the amount of books published in all three series is roughly comparable (all three series have published more than 2000 books each), there are manifest discrepancies in their use of punctuation marks. Continue reading

Symposium : Towards a Digital Atlas of European Crime Fiction? (British Library Conference Centre, April 10, 2015)

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In the last decades the astonishing speed in the global circulation of cultural works and the unprecedented opportunities to gather and analyse large amount of data through electronic resources have opened up new possibilities for researchers in all disciplines. At the same time, the spatial turn in the Humanities has prompted scholars to consider the benefits of using maps and graphs to investigate the transnational history of cultural phenomena. However, while scholars working on quite traditional literary subjects have been quick to discuss and carry out the provocative claims made by Franco Moretti in The Atlas of the European Novel (1998), an ideal case study for such an approach, i.e. popular fiction, had been largely neglected.

The AHRC-funded project Visualising European Crime Fiction: New Digital Tools and Approaches to the Study of the Transnational Popular Culture has represented a first attempt to adopt this approach in the field of crime fiction studies, starting to collect data from different sources and exploring the uses of an online database and various visualisation tools. This exploratory project in partnership with the Paris-based BILIPO aimed at testing a number of strategies and possibilities in order to envision a larger, longer-term initiative to conduct extensive studies on the transnational circulation of popular fiction at the European level.  Researchers from a group of universities in the UK, France, Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic have collaborated to create sample datasets, the prototype database and a series of visualisations. Continue reading

The Seven Types of Locked Room Mystery

The Bodies From The Library

According to John Dickson Carr, there are no less than seven distinct types of locked room mystery. At least that is what his character Dr Fell tells the readers in chapter seventeen of his 1935 classic The Hollow Man (widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of that genre). Having mentioned this last week, I have been prevailed upon to summarise Dr Fell’s categorisations as a reminder for those who have read the book some time ago or to enable those who have yet to do so to benefit from Dr Fell’s elucidation while skipping over the relevant chapter (as Dickson Carr invites them to do) so they can get on with the plot.

1 The murder is not a murder but is, in fact, an accident. The circumstances are such that it appears there has been a murder but this is not the case. Instead there has been a fatal…

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Georges Simenon in Penguin

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(Click to enlarge)

A simple wordcloud, when it displays hierarchically structured information, can tell instantly something both very significant and  onerous to establish otherwise.  One would have to browse through hundreds of bibliographical data and to sort them, before being able to discover what the cloud above suggests simply and immediatly.

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The author who published the most books in the Penguin Crime Club,  the famous British pocketbooks publisher’s subseries devoted to the classics of crime fiction, is actually not  Agatha Christie, nor a member of the detection club,  nor any  British author. Neither is it one of the prolific American masters, such as Ellery Queen, or Erle Stanley Gardner. It is actually Georges Simenon, with 48 books published under the universally recognised green cover.

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Continue reading

From the Manor Mystery to Global Circulation : introducing the Detection Club

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Starting in 1930,  The Detection Club is more than just a literary society of authors, writing  detective stories in  English. Its founding members,  Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Dorothy L. Sayers, Freeman Wills Crofts and many others all had an immense influence on the perception, establishment and dissemination of the Crime Genre worldwide.  Continue reading