What is literary noir? How do British and American noir thrillers relate to their historical contexts? Lee Horsley's updated study of the genre, now available in paperback, ranges over hundreds of novels from the hard-boiled fiction of Hammett, Chandler and Cain to the game-players, voyeurs and consumers of contemporary thrillers and future noir.
This groundbreaking study, covering hundreds of novels, analyses the politics and poetics of literary noir from the hard-boiled fiction of Hammett, Chandler and Cain to the exciting diversity of twenty-first-century thrillers. Noir sensibility tends to come to the fore at times of discontent and anxiety, of disillusionment with institutional structures and loss of confidence in the possibility of effective agency. It undermines conventional values and 'moral meaning', questions our ability to interpret and judge the world, and prompts a sceptical distrust of the whole of society. The aim of this study, now available in an updated paperback version, is to establish a broad understanding of literary noir, its contexts, techniques, themes and protagonists. Ranging from Chandler's mean streets to the dark cityscapes of noir science fiction, it includes Depression-era private eyes, gangsters and victims, postwar avengers and femmes fatales, Harlem cops and small-town killers, the game-players, voyeurs and consumers of late twentieth-century commodity culture, the cyberpunk hackers of future worlds and the doomed hard men of a new millennium.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction PART I: 1920-45 Hard-boiled Investigators Big-shot Gangsters and Small-time Crooks Victims of Circumstance PART II: 1945-70 Fatal Men Fatal Women Strangers and Outcasts PART III: 1970-2000 Players, Voyeurs and Consumers Pasts and Futures Literary Noir in the Twenty-First Century Bibliography Index