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Excerpt from Detecting Canada: Essays on Canadian Crime Fiction, Television, and Film edited by Jeannette Sloniowski and Marilyn Rose

From the Introduction

[T]his book represents, we hope, the beginning of more concentrated scholarly engagement with this particular field in Canadian popular narrative. The time seems right, especially given the potentialities of the increasingly rich electronic “archives” that characterize the Internet at present. Not only are books, television, and film increasingly available through online vendors such as chapters.indigo.ca and amazon.ca, but scholarly sleuths—many of them graduate students in our flourishing programs in popular culture in Canada—are now able to access a great deal of early Canadian crime writing directly online....

Because crime writing is part of Canadian mass culture, then, it is to be expected that its iterations in the form of novels, films, and television will reflect certain overarching aspects of a Canadian national imaginary that reinforce national themes and stereotypes that permeate the popular media. The first of these is undoubtedly a preoccupation with law and order, which reflects the long- standing notion that Canada was founded on an ethic of “peace, order, and good government.”...

All of this having been said—and in light of our opening comments about the size of the body of Canadian crime fiction that now exists and the fact that a single collection cannot possibly address its fullness and potential—Detecting Canada seeks to make available a body of critical commentary on a Canadian genre that, while vital and recognized in terms of sales and by book awards, has had little attention paid to its history and its accomplishments as a popular genre....

Together this collection of essays presents a wide range of topics and approaches to Canadian crime fiction and seeks as a collection to shed light on this under-investigated Canadian genre in its various guises and modes. Our goal has been to start the ball rolling and to encourage others to attend critically to the development of this capacious and flexible genre as a way of expressing—and at times contending with—the complex national imaginary within which we continue to construe and negotiate our communal existence.

From Chapter 1 Coca-Colonials Write Back: Localizing the Global in Canadian Crime Fiction by Beryl Langer

Canadian crime fiction is particularly rich in strategic potential given its “realist” codes and the importance of “law and order” in the discursive formation of Canadian difference—remember we are in the realm of myth here, not the actual social formation that has its share of crime, violence, and killers whose bizarre acts of creative sadism equal any in the world....

The popularity of crime fiction in the 1980s and 1990s, and the emergence of regional, feminist, and national variants on the American hard-boiled genre, is in that sense not surprising. For Canadian nationalists, this general sense of fin-de-siècle risk is compounded by anxiety about national survival, generated by separatist pressure from within and the permeability of the U.S.—Canadian border—a mere line on the map, which offers no protection against “pollution” from the south, which, whether in the form of acid rain or crime and violence, will gradually obliterate Canadian difference altogether.