When Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Tony Hillerman’s oddly matched tribal police officers, patrol the mesas and canyons of their Navajo reservation, they join a rich tradition of Southwestern detectives. From dime novels through the pulps, the Southwest has provided a fascinating legacy of fictional detectives and criminals. From Dorothy B. Hughes, Frederic Brown, and Jim Thompson to Ross Thomas, Nevada Barr, and Susan Rogers Cooper, an extraordinary collection of writers has found inspiration in this rugged, sparsely settled land.
This tradition, which ranges
from psychological thrillers like Psycho
and Donovan’s Brain to the
ecomysteries of Edward Abbey’s Monkey
Wrench Gang and Judith Van Gieson, reflects a deep and profound sense of
place. From J.A.Jance’s High
Lonesome Ranch in Arizona and Sue Grafton’s Santa Teresa to Steven Havill’s
Posadas County and Carole Nelson Douglas’s Las Vegas, writers have built
compelling visions of the men and women who wander one of America’s last
frontiers. The Southwest has even
shaped the birth of the nonfiction novel with Truman Capote’s meditation on
violence and the American character, In
Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s
The Executioner’s Song.
Boys and Bad Girls of the Badlands, a group of literary critics tracks the
mystery and crime novel from the Painted Desert and Rocky Mountains to Death
Valley and Salt Lake City, through exotic arroyos and bleak urban landscapes.
In addition to essays on the origins of the detective novel in the
Southwest and its contemporary masters, the book includes the first
comprehensive bibliography of mysteries set in the Southwest and a chapter on
Southwest film noir from Humphrey Bogart’s hard-nosed hood in The
Petrified Forest to Russell Crowe’s hard-nosed cop in L.A. Confidential.
Glassman is Professor of Communication and Humanities at Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University. He has
coedited a number of works including two books on the detective genre, Crime
Fiction and Film in the Sunshine State and Orange Pulp.
His latest book is a crime novel called The Near Death Experiment.
Maurice O’Sullivan,. Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature at Rollins College, has edited Shakespeare’s Other Lives and Elizabeth Smith’s Book of Job and co-edited The Florida Reader, Florida in Poetry, Crime Fiction and Film in the Sunshine State, and Orange Pulp.