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fiction crime vs. crime fiction



detective fiction

Its modern origins are found in three stories by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849):
• “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
• “The Mystery of Marie Roget”
• “The Purloined Letter”
Poe laid the groundwork for the detective
archetype through his hero, the Chevalier
C. Auguste Dupin

this is an graphic novel book


Detective Fiction: Poe introduced what would become some defining features:

• a crime set in a city where potentially criminal elements lurk
• a set of clues, which the detective assesses one by one then uses to successfully
“ratiocinate” (or deduce) the criminal’s identity
• a reassuring theme that, despite the perceived rise in crime in the big bad city,
certain individuals (e.g. the lone amateur detective) have the power to maintain
law and order
• reassuring evidence that, through observation, research, and logical reasoning,
one can deduce the sequence of events that resulted in an imbalance in the
“natural order of things”


the genre of detective fiction concedes with..

with the rise of cities in the 19th century.


Killing Floor:

We begin in medias res: in the middle of things, a crime fiction convention. (See p. 1.) How does this convention affect the mood?

At mosphere and mood refer to the emotions a reader experiences while reading a section of a literary work


conflict in crime fiction

Three reasons why crimes occur in crime fiction:
1. incompetence
2. evil
3. bureaucracy



Incompetent people (e.g. lazy, unobservant police officers) fail to predict the likelihood of a crime’s occurrence
Competent people (i.e. the lone detective) know what to look for and what not to look for.
“In detective fiction everything that is repeatable and obvious ceases to be criminal and is, therefore, unworthy of ‘investigation’.” Franco Moretti


incompetence : what to look for ?
what not to look for ?

What not to look for?
Any human behaviour that occurs within a predictable routine (i.e. conformity).

What to look for?
Any human behaviour that does not occur within a predictable routine (i.e. individuality).


Evil : what is evil in crime fiction

It’s an individual’s belief that his or her peers are all a means to his own personal gain.
How does crime fiction’s depiction of evil differ from horror fiction’s depiction of evil?
The individual is isolated from his or her community.
The individual strikes fear into the community because he or she sets out to deny the community’s need for social stability.


Evil : competence detective

A competent detective sees evil where others do not, because the detective is a student of human behaviour and is able to see the evil individual who strays from everyone else’s adherence to a predictable, daily routine.


the scariest criminal...

The scariest criminals blend in with the crowd. At first,
they slip by undetected, because they abide by a
predictable routine. They lack signs betraying their


Does reacher like crowds ? Explains

“Reacher didn’t like crowds. He enjoyed solitude and was a mild agoraphobic, which didn't mean he was afraid of wide-open spaces. . . . Instead, he was unsettled by the ago ra, which was an ancient Greek word for a crowded public marketplace.”
(book 12)

when you're in a crowd, you're surrounded by a sea of strangers.
• and that terrifies reacher
• they could be criminals


Consider the overrepresentation of serial killers in popular culture. Why do readers love learning about serial killers?

check recordings


whats scarier that individual criminality ?

Even scarier than individual criminality (one bad apple) is systemic criminality, whereby an entire institution (e.g. the justice system) supports unlawful behaviour.



A bureaucracy refers to a system of government where the government’s most impactful decisions are largely
made by unelected officials (bureaucrats).
Traditional institutions (e.g. the justice system, schools, religious centres, businesses, families, political bodies) tend to abide by rules that prohibit individuals from
exercising their power to detect and anticipate criminal activity.
Se e p. 216.

crime fiction is filled with bureaucrats that makes it harder for cops to get the criminals

rules that suppose to keep us safe is betrayed in the crime fiction as an inconvenience, gets in the way


comepensating for bureaucracy inefficiency

Compensating for bureaucratic inefficiency, the lone detective has the freedom to operate outside of a stifling system of rules and protocols. See p. 115. But, at the same time, the detective cannot remain a complete loner. He must sacrifice his individuality for the sake of the greater good. The detective’s sacrifice is a critical component of his character arc, i.e. his transformation over the course of the story.


the detective behavioural code

1. Observe.
2. Analyze (“This operation was for me.”)
3. Remain calm (“Kept my hands above the table and drained my cup”).
4. Process new information (see the guns on page 2).
5. Strategize.
6. Maintain ground (I wasn’t going to lie on the floor).

1. he always need to observe ppl, his surroundings is lethal so he must be observant


3. he is always come. He always have complete control of his action. Doesn't act on impulse


5. he always tries to be 2 step ahead of his opponents

6. He always shows that he has some sort of leverage on the other person


Is reacher slow on some things/ observation

In the first chapter, we get the sense that we’re in a non-descript town. It’s clean, perhaps too clean.
Later, on page 121, Reacher marvels, “ . it was the most immaculate town I had ever seen.”

he is missing some things about the town .
its unnatural, no economic to support that, there must be a criminal organization in order for this to happen
reacher is really slow to piece it together


2. observation

Reacher’s confidence in his powers of observation makes him extremely judgmental. At times, he draws curious conclusions.
See, for instance, how he describes Chief Morrison on p. 11.

in addition to note, reacher is not always right about his observation .


When we meet Finlay, Reacher approves.
Why? On what basis? (See pp. 12-13).

• he approves more ppl from a higher class then a person from a lower class

check recordings


See p. 79.

one thing learn in the army, he always learn how to cheat

check book + recording


what did guardian article said about Jack Reacher novels

“I have established a simple rule for ranking the books: the more people he kills (and the badder they are), the better I like it, and him. Reacher is, of course, in a long line of American outcast heroes . . . who abjure emotional ties, head out into the wilderness and take upon their own broad shoulders the primitive moral conscience of the tribe. Too immature to make a sexual commitment, obsessed with death and terror . . . ”


Hardboiled Detective Fiction

American detective fiction became a distinct genre of crime fiction with the rise of hardboiled detective fiction, as seen in the stories by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) and Raymond Chandler (1888-1959).

Their heroes are hardboiled, like an egg:
• hard on the outside
• soft on the inside
They conceal their feelings, reflecting an inability to be
emotionally intimate with anyone.
They often drown their feelings with alcohol.

(need to protect their feelings
they are very sad to see that the world is falling to crime
if they show their emotions, they reeled that he is not a man and that another men will take advantage of his weakness)

The detectives lament that their hometown (usually L.A. or N.Y.) is running amok with crime and corruption And yet, he adheres to a strict moral code that requires him to protect the weak and the innocent Given his lack of refinement, he is comfortable in the criminal underworld

( really upset that tier town has a lot of crime
feels that it is his jobs to save the city )


Male posturing

Male posturing is behaviour that a man employs in order to seem superior to other men. Male social interactions become ways to express dominance, a “game” of sorts. (See p. 62.)

The key rule is to never show fear. See p. 84.


Is Reacher Hardboiled?

Unlike the hardboiled detective, Reacher comfortably admits he has feelings. See p. 223.

(will allow himself to have feelings in certain moments
there is no femme fatale in the jack reacher novel )


The Archetypal American Hero

Reacher casts himself as the reluctant American, see p. 20.

He’s the independent, rugged individualist, see p. 24— going to “try it my way.”

What does he want? See p. 23.

On p. 82, he decides “to intervene for myself.”

The hero uses his belief in “American Exceptionalism” to excuse his tendency to cheat.

(• he is reluctant to intervene )


“I carry a spare shirt, pretty soon I'm carrying spare pants. Then I'd need a suitcase. Next thing I know, I’ve got a house and a car and a savings plan and I’m filling out all kinds of forms.”

what does it mean ?

check recordings


The Setting

National Setting: “…a president I didn’t vote for last time and wasn’t going to vote for this time” (p. 1), who “was cutting crime prevention so he could get re-elected” (p. 113).

Global Setting: p. 28-29, the president throws up his hands, cuts and runs. It angers Reacher. The coast guard is scaling back (p. 122).

But Reacher . . . is like the president, because the murder “is your problem, not mine” (p. 63). No one’s problems are his problems, as he notes again on p. 124.


The Archetypal American Hero

About a quarter of the way through the novel, Reacher remembers “the loyalty thing” (150).

The archetypal American hero must realize that other people’s problems are his own problems, if for no other reason than a sense of loyalty and a duty to uphold the social order.

He hears that tiny voice that says “you’re supposed to do something about that” (150).

(joes death (his brother) makes him remember loyalty towards him

makes him part of society

he is suppose to stands up for ppl, his reason to live, his reason to exist .

that what good americans do. ppl, forget about that.
this is reacher. )