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.

          In Bad 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.

Steve 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.