Domestic Noir

I co-edited this collection of essays which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. I was delighted to be shortlisted for the HRF Keating Prize for a critical work on crime fiction.

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The novels and films which are the subject of this study are interested in asking why a disproportionately large number of people are assaulted and murdered as a result of intimate violence, as opposed to stranger violence. In the US where gun laws are far more lax, the tragedy of domestic violence, intimate violence, and gendered violence is higher. An even more chilling statistical outlier involves the accidental shootings of siblings, parents, and self-perpetrated fatalities by toddlers and young children. Repressive right-wing governments and media in the UK and USA (where the majority of domestic noir novels are published) form the backdrop to these stories and this manifests itself particularly in relation to intimate, domestic, and gendered violence. The continuum of harms for those seeking support and justice for assault and murder includes funding cuts to sexual assault services, cuts to labs that process rape kits and other forensic evidence, and legal systems that punish victims and acts indifferently towards perpetrators, allowing sexual predators to have no fear of recourse when they boast of sexual crimes. This collection emerges in the months after Brock Turner’s arrest and by the time it is published he will be free. Into a world where Theresa May, who presided over the increasingly dystopian detention centre Yarls Wood (which disproportionately harms queer women of colour), the destruction of domestic violence services has made an alliance with the DUP, a homophobic party in favour of forced pregnancies. Though this is the political and legal landscape, there is something far richer, more nuanced, working through the texts examined in this collection, and each of the essays offer a unique perspective on how domestic noir re-enacts existing tropes and mythologies, whilst offering a particular, specific index of the current cultural anxieties which produce these narratives.