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‘From the Domestic to the Dominant: The New Face of Crime Fiction’
Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), The Silent Wife (ASA Harrison), The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins), are just three recent novels that have captured the commercial imagination and conceivably shifted the critical perception of what a contemporary crime thriller is and should be doing in the second decade of the 21st Century. The terrain is domestic, the narrative perspective and criminal perpetrator firmly female. However, the political is of course ever present in relation to gender and society. The crime thriller has always been a peculiarly modern form. Its transition to an urgent, necessary and contemporary form of literary expression is arguable, and lies at the core of the discussion within this collection.
Julia Crouch (Cuckoo, The Long Fall, Tarnished and Every Vow You Break) recognised as the originator of the term ‘Domestic Noir’ stated that it ‘takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience.’
Domestic Noir is often concerned with crimes of an extremely intimate nature. Renee Knight’s Disclaimer and Claire Kendal’s The Book of You, both deal with unusually invasive forms of stalking. Christobel Kent’s The Crooked House and Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree both detail the horror of long-buried secrets surfacing. Many of the novels deal explicitly with what Rebecca Whitney (The Liar’s Chair) describes as ‘toxic marriage and its fallout’, such as Emma Chapman’s How to be a Good Wife, and Lucie Whitehouse’s Before we Met. There are also versions of the marriage thriller that present economically or sexually independent women transgressing, such as Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard and Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau. Continue reading