Out Now! Crime Scenes: Modern Crime Fiction in an International Context

gdanskCrime Scenes: Modern Crime Fiction in an International Context examines the ways in which crime fiction has developed over several decades and in several national literary traditions. The volume covers a wide spectrum of current interests and topical concerns in the field of crime fiction studies. It introduces twenty-four original essays by an international group of scholars divided among three main sections: «Genres», «Authors and Texts» and «Topics». Issues discussed include genre syncretism, intertextuality, sexuality and gender, nationhood and globalization, postcolonial literature and ethical aspects of crime fiction.

(and my yarn THE TUT sneaked in there, too!)

About the Authors

Urszula Elias studied English Literature at the University of Gdańsk (Poland). Her research interests include British lesbian literature and Victorian women fiction (especially the issue of «New Womanhood»). Currently she is working on George Egerton’s collections of short stories.
Agnieszka Sienkiewicz-Charlish is a member of the Scottish Studies Research Group at the University of Gdańsk (Poland). Her research interests include Scottish literature, Gothic and crime fiction, especially «Tartan Noir» and Ian Rankin.

Crime Fiction – Here and There and Again

crime gdansk2Back In 2012 I had the real pleasure of being at special guest at Crime Fiction – Here and There, Now and Then, an academic conference at the University Of Gdansk which was organised by Agnieszka Sienkiewicz-Charlish, M.A. and Urszula Elias, M.A. The Academic Advisor was Prof. David Malcolm, who has a story in Exiles: An Outsider Anthology.

Being an academic conference, a lot of it was way over my head but it was a very interesting and fun experience to be sure.

And they’ve done it again. I’ll be a guest along with K A Laity, Dr Rachel Franks and others:

Crime Fiction – Here and There and Again

11-13 September 2014

2nd International Postgraduate Conference

Department of English Language Cultures and Literatures, English Institute, Faculty of Languages of the University of Gdańsk
and the State School of Higher Professional Education in Elbląg

Accommodation

Advisory Board and Executive Committee

Call for Papers    [DOC] [PDF] – CLOSED

Conference Fee

Conference Venue

Honorary Patrons

Keynotes

Programme

Registration – CLOSED

Travel

2012 Conference

GdanskFind out more about the conferences and the people involved here.

And check out the Facebook page.

 

Guest Blog: It’s just Australian crime fiction mate by Dr Rachel Franks

rachelAs a crime-writing nation, modern Australia is a much younger sibling to the United Kingdom and the United States. Yet, like any other enthusiastic child, Australia took to crime writing with eagerness and flair. Australians would go on to reflect and reject some of the great traditions of the genre established by many of the earliest names to be associated with crime fiction including Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe. Indeed, there’s a great confidence in Australian crime fiction as Australian writers had a distinct advantage over their British and American predecessors. Let’s face it; in the early days everyone knew a crook.

The British established Colonial Australia as a penal colony in 1788 and around 182,000 convicts would be dispatched to the Great Southern Land until the final transport reached our shores in 1868. These men and women (who, with a few exceptions, were transported for 7 years, for 14 years or for life) set the scene for Australians to write and to read crime fiction; though the majority of these criminals hardly fitted the profile of the modern day serial killer or violent murderer found in contemporary examples of the genre. In amongst those charged with assault and highway robbery were those guilty of much lesser crimes such as forgery and fraud, or stealing coats or handkerchiefs, food or drink, as well as cash and more valuable items such as livestock or pocket watches. These activities were enough to establish an interest in the criminal life and tales of, and inspired by, the exploits of such lawbreakers would appear in newspapers and pamphlets before becoming staples of publications such as The Australian Journal (1865-1962) and The Bulletin (1880-2008).

Australia’s first novel, Henry Savery’s Quintus Servinton (1830), is a crime novel and many of our early literary efforts followed Savery’s example. Charles Rowcroft’s The Bushranger of Van Diemen’s Land (1846) is a melodramatic tale designed to warn potential criminals away from a life of crime. Henry Kingsley’s The Recollections of Geoffry Hamlyn (1859) is a story of bushmen and bushrangers that has never been out of print. Ellen Davitt’s Force and Fraud: a tale of the bush (1865) clearly demonstrates the capacity of women to contribute, as both character and creator, to the crime fiction genre. Marcus Clarke’s (1846-1881) For the Term of His Natural Life, serialised in the early 1870s and first appearing as a novel in 1874, is widely considered to be one of Australia’s most important literary works. Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) is a classic locked room mystery and the first Australian international bestseller after its initial publication in 1886 while the well-known works of Guy Boothby, that detail the exploits of the occultist Dr Nikola, in: A Bid for Fortune, or Dr Nikola’s Vendetta (1895); Dr Nikola Returns (1896); The Lust of Hate (1898); Dr Nikola’s Experiment with Three Short Stories (1899); and Farewell Nikola (1901), dominated the final decade of the Colonial Era and saw Australian crime fiction through to Federation in 1901.

So, Australians made a strong start and have now been pushing out high quality crime fiction novels for nearly 200 years but what is Australian crime fiction?

Setting is probably the most obvious answer. It’s not, however, a straightforward one. Sure there are the obligatory kangaroos out bush and descriptions of Sydney Harbour on a hot day or the back alleys of Melbourne after rain. Yet, Arthur Upfield was born in England while his Napoleon Bonaparte novels predominantely feature uniquely Australian bush settings. Miles Franklin was born in Australia but her only crime fiction work, Bring the Monkey (1933), is set entirely on a large country estate in England.

Language is another obvious answer. The occasional re-imagining of The Queen’s English providing a very specific Australian flavour. There’s the odd bit of slang and a talent for understatement, when Shane Maloney describes where the corpse was hidden at the Pacific Pastoral meat-packing works in Stiff (1994) it’s pretty simple: “There it was, jammed between a pallet load of best export bone-less beef and half a tonne of spring lamb.” There’s also a very particular way of talking about class divides as seen in Peter Corris’ The Dying Trade (1980): “I pushed my old Falcon along the sculptured divided highway which wound up to the tasteful mansions and shaven lawns. Mercs and Jags slipped out of driveways. The only other under-ten-thousand-dollar drivers I saw were in a police Holden and they were probably there to see that the white lines on the road weren’t getting dirty.”

Australian crime fiction is both of these things: the outback and the streets of Sydney and Melbourne; the way people describe things and the way they talk to each other. But Australian crime fiction is also something more. There’s a dry humour, there’s an idea that maybe not all criminals are as bad as they seem, and there’s often a healthy disrespect for authority figures and for the system. There’s also a desire to just get in there and get the job done. A great example of this can be found in Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore (2005) the story of a police officer, Joe Cashin, who, suffering the long-term effects of being seriously wounded, leaves his posting with Homicide in Melbourne and returns to the small coastal town he calls home. When Cashin loses his temper with a particularly obnoxious and racist local man, he takes to him with a can of dog food; the blow so fierce both men feel the impact. The act generates no cries of outrage or claims of police brutality from the reader. It’s just a copper taking care of someone who desperately needed to be taken care of. Using a can of Frisky Dog, Meaty Chunks in Marrow Gravy, instead of a regulation piece of weaponry, is simply a nice touch.

Australian Crime Fiction: a quick guide

Marcus Clarke (1846-1881): His classic tale For the Term of His Natural Life (1874) is a story of crime, convicts and a moving commentary on social life.

Fergus Hume (1859-1932): His first, and best, crime novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) was also Australia’s first international bestseller.

Mary Fortune (c. 1833-c. 1910): Australia’s first woman crime fiction writer, she wrote The Detective’s Album a serial that began in 1868 and went for an astonishing forty years.

Arthur Upfield (1890-1964): The creator of Napoleon Bonaparte and the man responsible for giving the police procedural credibility.

Patricia Flower (1914-1977): A fine writer of police procedurals and psychological thrillers, her first novel Wax Flowers for Gloria originally appeared in 1958.

Patricia Carlon (1927-2002): A writer of crime fiction and romance fiction her best crime novel is one of her later works The Whispering Wall which was first published in 1969.

Jon Cleary (1942-2010): The creator of Scobie Malone and one of the most respected crime fiction authors Australia has produced.

Peter Corris (1942-): The creator of Cliff Hardy and the man often credited with generating a renaissance of Australian crime fiction.

Gabrielle Lord (1946-): One of Australia’s most successful crime fiction writers, she has written popular crime fiction series for adults and young people.

Marele Day (1947-): The creator of Claudia Valentine and the woman who produced the best feminist reimagining of the hardboiled novel.

Regardless of how broadly or narrowly Australian crime fiction is defined there is an enormous reservoir of titles to explore. From the early tales of bunyips and bushrangers to Peter Corris’ hardboiled stories of tough men living tough lives. These titles have international appeal and share common themes of good guy gets bad guy (and sometimes the girl), tough girl catches a few killers of her own, and the heroes – generally – manage to triumph over the villains. There is, however, something unique about Australian crime fiction, let’s call it an attitude, that makes it easily recognised as a product of Down Under. Enjoy.

Bio: Dr. Rachel Franks (administrator / educator / researcher / writer) is based in Sydney, Australia. Some people look at her strangely when they find out her PhD is in crime fiction. Rachel has delivered numerous conference papers on crime fiction, food studies and information science. Some of her work can be found in various books, journals and magazines as well as on a few blogs. She likes characters who are tough, quirky or both and stories that have neat endings. Her favourite murder weapon is poison.

@cfwriter

https://www.rebelmouse.com/cfwriter/

crimefictionwriter at gmail.com

Where The Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska – Update.

Where the Devil Can't Go One of my favourite crime novels of 2012 was Where The Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska.

It tells the story of Janusz Kiszka, a Polish ex-pat who has been living in London for over twenty years. A man with a past he’d rather forget.

Janusz is a ‘fixer’. A kind of unofficial Private Eye. When he is asked by his priest to track down a missing Polish waitress it seems like a straightforward case of a young girl running away with her boyfriend.  However, as Janusz searches for the girl, he digs deeper and uncovers something much more sinister.

Meanwhile,  D C Natalie Kershaw, new to the job and trying to make her mark, is investigating the suspicious death of a young Polish girl whose body is washed up from the river Thames.

And, of course, the two stories intertwine. This is a cracking début novel from Anya Lipska, which mixes a well paced police procedural with a tense political thriller. The world of the Polish ex pat in London is brilliantly drawn, as are the scenes set in Poland, and both Janusz Kiszka and Natalie Kershaw are vivid, gritty, no-nonsense characters who deserve to feature in more novels. A great calling card for Anya Lipska and surely the start of an addictive new crime series and is now available in paperback.

Anya says:

My detective thriller Where the Devil Can’t Go completed its long journey to publication in paperback form on 7 February.  

The publisher is The Friday Project, an imprint of Harper Collins, who have also ordered a second book in the series featuring Polish fixer and private eye Janusz Kiszka and Met detective DC Natalie Kershaw.  

The book will be available through local bookshops and the usual online emporia … but most exciting for me is that it will also be in larger WH Smiths – at least for February – the store where  bought all my books when I was growing up. Book 2 will also be based within the Polish community in London but the plot line will be more contemporary than in ‘Devil’.  

There is a trailer for the book – this is the embed code should you want to upload it:   https://www.youtube.com/embed/qHStR166UG4?rel=0 

 and also a new website (inc the trailer) at www.anyalipska.com

 My favourite cover line?  Thriller writer Emlyn Rees:  ‘RIP Nordic crime, here come the Poles.’

Where The Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska

Janusz Kiszka is a Polish ex-pat who has been living in London for over twenty years. A man with a past he’d rather forget.


Janusz is a ‘fixer’. A kind of  unofficial Private Eye. 


When he is asked by his priest to track down a missing Polish waitress it seems like a straightforward case of a young girl running away with her boyfriend. 


However, as Janusz searches for the girl, he digs deeper and uncovers something much more sinister.


Meanwhile,  D C Natalie Kershaw, new to the job and trying to make her mark, is investigating the suspicious death of a young Polish girl whose body is washed up from the river Thames.


And, of course, the two stories intertwine.


Where The Devil Can’t Go is the cracking début novel from Anya Lipska, which mixes a well paced police procedural with a tense political thriller. The world of the Polish ex pat in London is brilliantly drawn, as are the scenes set in Poland, and both Janusz Kiszka and Natalie Kershaw are vivid, gritty, no-nonsense characters who deserve to feature in more novels.


Where The Devil Can’t Go is a great calling card for Anya Lipska and surely the start of an addictive new crime series.