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The Detective as Historian

History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction

Edited by Ray B. Browne and Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr.; Preface by Robin W. Winks

Publication Year: 2013

Readers of detective stories are turning more toward historical crime fiction to learn both what everyday life was like in past societies and how society coped with those who broke the laws and restrictions of the times. The crime fiction treated here ranges from ancient Egypt through classical Greece and Rome; from medieval and renaissance China and Europe through nineteenth-century England and America.
       Topics include: Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael; Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose; Susanna Gregory’s Doctor Matthew Bartholomew; Peter Heck’s Mark Twain as detective; Anne Perry and her Victorian-era world; Caleb Carr’s works; and Elizabeth Peter’s Egyptologist-adventurer tales.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Cover, Title Page

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p. 1-1

Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

Mystery and detective novels are the bestselling form of popular fiction today, certainly in the United States and Great Britain, and the "historical mystery" is the most rapidly growing branch of the genre. Clearly many readers find pleasure in seeing a mystery set in the past and solved by methods not always...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

In recent years, historians-both professional and amateur-have given increased thought to the value and place of historical fiction in their research and teaching. A recent issue of the American Historical Review contains a Forum prefaced by the remarks, presumably by the editor, that...

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Lynda S. Robinson and Lauren Haney: Detection in the Land of Mysteries

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pp. 11-21

Ancient Egypt has long been regarded as a land of mystery. With its pyramids, its sphinx, its pantheon of animal-headed deities, the esoteric art of mummification and a history stretching back thousands of years. Currently, three authors have chosen Pharaonic Egypt as a setting for historical detective...

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John Maddox Roberts and Steven Saylor: Detecting in the Final Decades of the Roman Republic

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pp. 22-31

There are two standard ways of approaching the setting and writing of historical mysteries. One is to use a period and culture which few people know about and for which there are few sources, thus allowing the author wide scope for control and creativity. The other approach is to use a well-documented...

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Lindsey Davis: Falco, Cynical Detective in a Corrupt Roman Empire

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pp. 32-44

Histories and historical novels both present worlds distant from their readers. Historians can do this explicitly; historical novelists must populate a world with appropriate individuals, social organization, and culture without becoming didactic. When a historical novel is also a detective novel, advantages accrue...

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Peter Tremayne: Sister Fidelma and the Triumph of Truth

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pp. 45-59

Peter Tremayne is actually London journalist and historian Peter Berresford Ellis, who, over the last three decades, has published some seventy books along with scores of essays, articles, and short stories. As Tremayne, one of the two pseudonyms he generally uses when writing...

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Ellis Peters: Brother Cadfael

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pp. 60-75

Ellis Peters is the pseudonym that Edith Pargeter used for most of her detective fiction, including the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, on which her fame will primarily rest. Not to acknowledge Pargeter's other writings, however, would be to undervalue her accomplishments. Pargeter published...

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P. C. Doherty: Hugh Corbett, Secret-Agent and Problem-Solver

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pp. 76-84

P. C. Doherty is currently one of the most popular British writers of historical crime and detective fiction; he is also one of the most prolific, having written over thirty books set in a wide variety of periods. In having such an active pen, Doherty has made himself one of the most familiar...

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Susanna Gregory: Doctor Matthew Bartholomew, Master of Medicine and Detection

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pp. 85-94

Readers familiar with places where small minds rise to high positions should find themselves right at home in mid-fourteenth-century Cambridge University, where murder hastens promotion, tradition reigns supreme, and town and gown are at daggers drawn. It is an institution whose political...

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Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose

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pp. 95-110

The Name of the Rose (1983) is a beautifulIy written and complex novel. Unlike many murder mysteries, it has already been subjected to considerable scholarly analysis. Interest in the book stems not only from its enormous popularity and engaging story but also from the reputation of its...

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Elizabeth Eyre: Detection in the Italian Renaissance

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pp. 111-121

Elizabeth Eyre is the author of six Italian Renaissance Whodunnits that follow the escapades of the adventurer Sigismondp and his servant Benno as they investigate murder and conspiracy in the Renaissance courts of both fictional and real Italian cities.1 These novels contain a fast paced succession...

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Margaret Frazer: Sister Frevisse and Medieval Mysteries

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pp. 122-132

Once upon a time, writers-particularly satirists or social critics-set their plots in imaginary places presented as unexplored lands, the better to make their point about the society in which they lived. Thomas More, following Plato's lead, created Utopia or "no place." Jonathan Swift placed...

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Josephine Tey and Others: The Case of Richard III

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pp. 133-146

On August 22, 1485, England's King Richard III lost his life at the Battle of Bosworth Field, defending his crown. He had ruled for just over two years. Five centuries later, however, controversy continues to swirl about the man and his nature.1 Was Richard "Hell's black intelligencer," the...

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C. L. Grace: Kathryn Swinbrook, Fifteenth-Century Physician and Sleuth

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pp. 147-155

A fifteenth-century English woman practicing medicine seems fanciful to many readers. Yet medical historians Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead and Monica Green provide clear evidence for C. L. Grace's portrayal of Kathryn Swinbrooke, Leech and Physician.1 Women physicians and surgeons were...

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Michael Clynes: The Recollections of Shallot

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pp. 156-168

As revealed by the melodramatic note of dark foreboding with which Sir Roger Shallot reaches back into his past, the six volumes of his 'memoirs' published to date are no ordinary detective mysteries. Rather, they are nightmares. Through the recollections of Shallot-a sixteenth-century rogue...

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Maan Meyers: The Saga of the Dutchman

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pp. 169-174

Historical detective fiction is an important sub-category of historical fiction in general. As such, it should be judged by the same criteria applied to historical fiction; namely, that a certain verisimilitude is present. All the events depicted may not have actually happened but the reader should...

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Bruce Alexander: Sir Henry Fielding and Blind Justice

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pp. 175-185

Mystery novels set in London during the Georgian period often center around the latter half of the nineteenth century during the heyday of the Bow Street Runners, the police force created by Henry and John Fielding. Many writers have employed Sir John Fielding-the blind, brilliant...

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Keith Heller: A Genealogy of Detection in the Eighteenth Century

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pp. 186-201

Howard Haycraft, in his never-to-be-outdated history of the detective story, Murder for Pleasure, rightly observes that "the detective story is purely a development of the modem age." Haycraft cites, with approbation, George Bates's last word on the subject: "The cause of Chaucer's silence on...

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Margaret Lawrence: An Eighteenth-Century Midwife

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pp. 202-212

It is early in the year 1786-three years since the end of the civil war that made traitors of men loyal to their king and patriots of rebellious colonists. Women reckon time in an alternate manner and so it has been twenty years since the beginning of Lucy Hannah Trevor's "long war" that...

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Stephanie Barron: (Re)Inventing Jane Austen as Detective

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pp. 213-221

A few years before her own death at the age of seventy-two, Cassandra Austen, elder sister of the famous Georgian era novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817), burned a substantial number of her sister's letters and considerably edited the remainder with a pair of scissors. This destruction and expurgation...

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Kate Ross: Where Have All the Dandies Gone?

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pp. 222-229

From 1811 to 1820, the future King George IV of England served as Prince Regent during the final years of his father, mad George III. It has been claimed that Romance writers have created more dukes, counts and no-accounts in this nine-year period than have ever existed in the entire history...

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James Brewer: Sleuths and Carpetbaggers along the Mississippi River

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pp. 230-239

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the federal government undertook the difficult job of bringing the former Confederate states back into the Union. The dramatic and controversial process of Reconstruction lasted twelve years and comprised two distinct phases. During Presidential Reconstruction, which ran...

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Peter Heck: Mark Twain as Detective

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pp. 240-250

Following the death and destruction of the Civil War (1861-65), the United States entered into a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization. By the late nineteenth century, railroad and telegraph lines crisscrossed and connected the nation, millions of immigrants poured into...

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Caleb Carr: Running Away from the Darkness

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pp. 251-264

The issue of historical authenticity within a fictional genre-which is one of the concerns of the present collection of essays-has two interrelated dimensions in Caleb Carr's work. In two best-selling novels, The Alienist (1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997), Carr re-creates New York...

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Anne Perry: Victorian 'Istorian and Murdermonger

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pp. 265-282

In Daily Life in Victorian England, Sally Mitchell makes many cogent Many of us have vivid mental pictures of Victorian England: a Charles Dickens Christmas with a large happy family surrounding a table crammed with food [and] the dark and terrifying slums .... "Victorianism" remains a living concept in social and political debates, although its meanings are contradictory; it is used to describe ...

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Peter Lovesey: No Cribbing on History

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pp. 283-292

Confessing to cold-blooded murder, a woman waits in Newgate Prison for the Hangman. Policemen at a London police station conduct a seance, and a detective polices the spirit world. A Keystone Cop plunges to his death. The Prince of Wales investigates the mysterious death of a...

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Elizabeth Peters: The Last Camel Died at Noon as Lost World Adventure Pastiche

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pp. 293-305

Listed among crime fiction's most famous historical detectives is Elizabeth Peters's intrepid Amelia Peabody. Victorian Egyptologist, noted archeologist, and staunch feminist, Amelia Peabody is, arguably, the genre's most endearing and popular creation. Since the publication of her first adventure...

Contributors

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pp. 306-310


E-ISBN-13: 9780879728816
Print-ISBN-13: 9780879728168

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013