Literary Precedents for Postmortem

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As Postmortem is a detective genre novel, comparing it to other examples of the genre is an enjoyable game. But clearly Cornwell does not write in the frothy, comic style that characterizes the "classical detective school" of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, or Ellery Queen. In classical mysteries, the killing is an intrusion into an otherwise peaceful setting; solving the crime restores social order. Cornwell's dark setting and her gruesome crimes place her in the American hard-boiled school of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Hard-boiled mysteries occur in dark city-scapes populated by sadistic criminals and marred by deeplyingrained social corruption. The detective is usually a solitary figure, one of the very few who retains a sense of justice. This figure is intelligent, but lacks the eccentric brilliance of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or Christie's Hercule Poirot. Rather, the hard-boiled hero succeeds by hard work, usually by placing...

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This section contains 491 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Postmortem Study Guide
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