Essays on Canadian Crime Fiction, Television, and Film
Publication Year: 2014
The first serious book-length study of crime writing in Canada, Detecting Canada contains thirteen essays on many of Canada’s most popular crime writers, including Peter Robinson, Giles Blunt, Gail Bowen, Thomas King, Michael Slade, Margaret Atwood, and Anthony Bidulka. Genres examined range from the well-loved police procedural and the amateur sleuth to those less well known, such as anti-detection and contemporary noir novels. The book looks critically at the esteemed sixties’ television show Wojeck, as well as the more recent series Da Vinci’s Inquest, Da Vinci’s City Hall, and Intelligence, and the controversial Durham County, a critically acclaimed but violent television series that ran successfully in both Canada and the United States.
The essays in Detecting Canada look at texts from a variety of perspectives, including postcolonial studies, gender and queer studies, feminist studies, Indigenous studies, and critical race and class studies. Crime fiction, enjoyed by so many around the world, speaks to all of us about justice, citizenship, and important social issues in an uncertain world.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Film and Media Studies
Title Page, Copyright Page
Jeannette Sloniowski and Marilyn Rose
In assembling this first collection of critical essays in this field it seems appropriate to provide both some context for and a rapid overview of the rich and varied array of crime fiction that exists at this point in Canadian history. To undertake such a quick sweep is a daunting task. David Skene- Melvin’s historical...
History and Theory
1. Coca-Colonials Write Back: Localizing the Global in Canadian Crime Fiction
Working across two related discourses and disciplines—post-colonial literary theory, on the one hand, and the globalization/localization debate in sociology and anthropology, on the other—this essay sees Canadian crime fiction as a “local” version of a “global” form, which, given the centrality of...
2. Canadian Crime Writing in English
E. K. Brown in his seminal essay “The Problem of a Canadian Literature” pointed out that “a great art is fostered by artists and audience possessing in common a passionate and peculiar interest in the kind of life that exists in the country where they live” (40). Unfortunately, it is just that audience...
Essays on Fiction
3. Canadian Psycho: Genre, Nation, and Colonial Violence in Michael Slade’s Gothic RCMP Procedurals
The police procedural is one of the most ideologically slippery sub-genres of crime fiction, capable of inscribing both reactionary and subversive responses to the dominant social order, oft en simultaneously. As Robert P. Winston and Nancy C. Mellerski argue, police procedurals exemplify Fredric...
4. Northern Procedures: Policing the Nation in Giles Blunt’s The Delicate Storm
In each of Giles Blunt’s popular mystery novels featuring Detective John Cardinal of the Algonquin Bay, Ontario,1 police force, the violent bodily trauma to an individual generically constitutive of crime fiction is connected with questions of personal and collective identity, memory, loss, recovery...
5. Revisioning the Dick: Reading Thomas King’s Thumps DreadfulWater Mysteries
Jennifer Andrews and Priscilla L. Walton
In an interview conducted in the fall of 2002, just as he released his first detective novel, DreadfulWater Shows Up, Native writer Thomas King explained his shift to writing detective fiction in pragmatic terms: “This book will get to more Native readers than Green Grass, Running Water [his acclaimed...
6. Generic Play and Gender Trouble in Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season
Peter Robinson is Canada’s most distinguished crime writer. A prolific and popular author, he has written nineteen Inspector Banks novels. He is also the author of three non-series crime novels and a large number of short stories, and editor of two collections of his own short stories and novellas...
7. A Colder Kind of Gender Politics: Intersections of Feminism and Detection in Gail Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourn Series
Finding ways to achieve the kind of feminism Adrienne Rich describes has proven difficult for women writers of detective fiction, who work, as George Grella and others have shown, in a genre that appears to be fundamentally conservative. After all, the basic narrative of a detective story...
8. Queer Eye for the Private Eye: Homonationalism and the Regulation of Queer Difference in Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant Mystery Series
Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant mystery series is one of a kind on the crime fiction scene in Canada today. Not only is it a successful Canadian detective mystery series with over 35,000 copies1 having been sold to date, it is the only Canadian detective series written by a gay male author that...
9. Under/Cover: Strategies of Detection and Evasion in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace
As Laura Marcus notes in The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, “Detective fiction has played and continues to play a complex and curious role in relation to the broader field of literature.” In its doubleness—as it presents both an “absent story” concerning an unsolved crime, and a “second...
Essays on Television
10. Televising Toronto in the 1960s: Wojeck and the Urban Crime Drama
Sarah A. Matheson
The CBC television drama Wojeck (1966–68) is widely considered to be one of the most important dramatic series ever produced in English Canada. The series centred on Steve Wojeck (John Vernon), a tough-talking, no-nonsense Toronto coroner, and followed his investigations into suspicious...
11. North of Quality? “Quality” Television and the Suburban Crimeworld of Durham County
Lindsay Steenberg and Yvonne Tasker
On either side of the 49th parallel, the Canadian-produced crime miniseries Durham County is being assigned the “quality television” moniker. The series follows the Sweeney family’s return to Durham County, a suburban Ontario community outside of Toronto. Over the series’ labyrinthine narrative...
12 Mounties and Metaphysics in Canadian Film and Television
It is a truism that film and television genres both reflect and affect the values of the cultures that produce them. Some scholars frame genre as a means of ideological repression and containment imposed on viewers through stereotypes that endorse conservative social and political imperatives such...