American Detective Fiction Analysis

1081 Words5 Pages
Detective fiction is one of the most popular forms of fiction in America. In his article, “American Detective Fiction,” Robin W. Winks addresses the fact that in spite of this popularity, the genre has received little critical attention that studies the work for itself. He explains the two types of errors that critics have made when looking at detective fiction: the high road, where critics claim classic works were detective fiction all along, and the low road, where critics poorly execute their analysis and simply give detailed plot summaries. Winks then goes on to describe how American detective fiction has something to offer because it reflects how the society of the time sees itself. This article is mostly effective in proving its claims…show more content…
The pitfalls of failed critiques and the potential within the genre are spelled out, aided by good organization of ideas and the presentation of clear examples; however, many of the examples are left unexplained and the inclusion of the debate between spy fiction and detective fiction distracts from the main argument of the article and detracts from its power. Winks organizes the article well with a logical progression of ideas that build upon one another, creating a believable thesis. The article begins with an explanation of its purpose: displaying what has been done in the past, and what should be done in the future. This introduction establishes the relevant ideas in the reader’s head. It continues by revealing the most frequent mistake that critics make when investigating American detective fiction: the high road. Starting with the “commonest strategy, and a deadly wrong one” not only gives the opportunity…show more content…
The dialogue of spy fiction’s role in regards to detective fiction does tie somewhat into realism, which is connected to the useful properties of American detective fiction. It still, however, stands apart because the focus is on the lack of realism and the glorification of violence. Though these things are not wholly removed from the topic at hand, the—fairly lengthy—discussion feels misplaced. The result of the long detour to spy fiction is that it is “no more a clouded mirror than any other” (9). While this conclusion is intriguing, it seems as though it could be another article in its own right, and it lessens the strength of the thesis. American detective fiction is no longer the mirror being discussed, and instead, it is a backdrop. The purpose of the article is to prove American detective fiction’s worth, as well as how and why it should be analyzed; the claim is that taking the genre seriously and studying it reveals cultural and societal views of the eras to which each work belongs. If proving the qualities of American detective fiction is the focus, then the spy fiction tangent is a side note at
Open Document