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"Golden Age" crime fiction.

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Wide Reading The crime-fiction genre is a longstanding genre which deals with the thrill and suspicion of ensnaring a villain, often by means of a fascinating process of thoughtful deduction. The perennial interest generated by villains and their associated crimes means that the genre is still very popular, though it has undergone development to make it more appealing to those familiar with popular culture. A form of the novel however, that is still widely read today is what is referred to "Golden Age" crime fiction. This term is used to identify crime fiction of the early part of the 20th Century, when the genre was dominated by British authors, and directed to the more literate middle and upper classes of the period. As a consequence, the crimes dealt with in these novels are often somewhat more sophisticated and genteel - featuring murders in country manors, while the villain is uncovered through a process of masterly deduction. Indeed, to better understand the general structure of a golden age piece of work, one must analyse a typical novel of the time. Agatha Christie is a key proponent of Golden Age crime fiction - often referred to as the mother of the Golden Age crime-fiction. Her novel - "The Big Four" contains many features of crime-fiction novels of that time. ...read more.


The way in which Watson narrates offers many tiny insights into the character of Holmes, such as when he states "Holmes looked pleased" or "Holmes seemed bewildered," which allows Conan-Doyle to make subtle insinuations - much like Christie did. Though "Silver Blaze" is a short story, one can see that the plot is somewhat similar to "The Big Four" as well in that it the murder is again of a member of the high class - a 'Colonel Ross' - and the villain, is a manservant. The setting is 'around the country' with descriptions of the 'moor' and 'pure country air' emphasising the more rural setting preferred by Golden Age authors. The deductive process is again masterfully conducted, with hints and clues peppered throughout the story, and cleverly brought together to reveal the culprit. However, Holmes does seem to have a less physically active investigation, though his method of solving the mystery relies less on chance, coincidence and assumption than Christie's Poirot. It is interesting to note the development of the genre to the modern-day type of fiction. As America grew in power and influence, and its population grew more literate, the American detective novel - known as hardboiled crime fiction became more common in the latter part of the 19th Century. It has progressed much since then, and now modern-day hardboiled fiction incorporates many of the elements that existed in earlier times. ...read more.


However, there seems to be a lack of development in relation to other aspects of stereotypical crime-fiction texts - such as a detailed setting, as well as some knowledge of the killer and victim. The abstract, insane nature of the act is also quite untypical of the crime-fiction genre - preferring to rely more on rational, logical thought to solve mysteries. However, the 'secrets' and the very macabre personification of 'Death - approaching him... his black shadow before him,' all indicate a crime of evil We can see from all these texts how much the genre of crime-fiction has developed and changed since its formalised inception, and the different sub-genres which have evolved as a result. The characteristics which are so evident in all of these texts reveal distinct styles in the different sub-genres - such as the fast paced hardboiled detective thriller, and the slower, more intellectual and intriguing novels of Conan-Doyle and other Golden Age authors. Each of the texts contributes immensely to the crime-fiction genre - whether it be by helping define the genre in its early beginnings in the "Tell - Tale Heart," or by helping to develop the genre to a more fast paced, witty thriller rather than a more complex murder mystery as was he case with 'Harry Lavender,' and all are responsible for generating the interest in crime-fiction today. ...read more.

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