Re-order, re-arrange, re-package: the creation of a distinctive Series’s identity.

cauchemar emily (1) manoir     

Gallimard’s ill-fated Série Blême  (1949-1951) is one of the most elegant and attractive Series of Crime Fiction. It is also one of the most  prestigious, and appealing, literarily.  It shows the dedication of the Series’ general editor, in his role as a selector of texts.  Publishing a series is an act of mediation. It involves mediating between authors (carefully chosen on the basis of a set  of objective and subjective criteria) and readers, whose taste the series seeks to educate. In this case, Marcel Duhamel (also the editor of the Série Noire)  was committed to  highlight through this series a literary evolution he saw  within the noir genre.  The evolution from the early Black Mask “hardboiled” stories, driven by the action, to a more subjective, introspective and psychological thriller, the novel of suspense. Continue reading

Detection Series in France in the 1920’s

International Crime Fiction Research Group


In France, the 1920’s saw  a decisive evolution in the critical recognition of the crime genre (with, notably, the 1929 publication of Régis Messac’s thesis on the detective novel)  and in the organisation of the publishing industry towards the promotion of crime fiction. The most notable series created at the time was certainly the perennial “Le Masque”. It was by no means the only significant one.  Neither was it the first. Here are a few landmarks

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Detective Novel Series in France in the 1930’s and 1940’s

DIXE - L'homme aux yeux jaunes

Gérard Dixe, L’Homme aux yeux jaunes, Nicea, 1945

illustration René Brantonne.

The 1930’s and 1940’s registered an abundance of Crime Fiction series in France. They are treasured today by collectors. Often this interest owes more to their cover art than to the crime stories themselves. This is perhaps unfair, as there are many great stories there. But the cover art is indeed remarkable.  Here are a few  examples from these iconic series.

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Crime Fiction on a Parisian Street Map


With thanks to Fabien Cerbelaud and Remy Crouzevialle

The famous series of the San-Antonio Adventures (175 books published between 1949 and 2000) explores the parisian space. The following maps locate the parisian streets and places inscribed in the texts;   they  visualise  their repartition and evolution. The first map (above) focuses on the first decade of the San-Antonio production ; it is based on a systematic inventory of occurences spread across 30 books. The second map (below)  shows the results of a sample from books published during the entire span of the original series’s career. Continue reading