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Body Language: Reading the Corpse in Forensic Crime Fiction .

Horsley, Lee and Horsley, Katharine (2006) Body Language: Reading the Corpse in Forensic Crime Fiction . Paradoxa: Terrain Vagues, 20. pp. 7-32. ISSN 1079-8072

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    Our purpose in this article is to explore the fascination, over the last decade, with crime narratives that centre on the figure of the forensic pathologist. Principally this involves a reading of Cornwell�s Scarpetta series, but we also discuss a growing number of other novels that confront readers with the �reality� of the dead body. In some cases (for example, Kathy Reichs and Priscilla Masters) writers use, as Cornwell does, the figure of the forensic pathologist; in other instances, such as Nicci French�s The Red Room (2001) and Jan Burke�s Bones (1999), the female protagonist�s reading of the crime is determined by alternative forms of first-hand access to the �underworld� of the grave or autopsy room, such as that of the crime journalist or criminal psychologist. In contrast to the kind of police procedural novel that gives centre-stage to the psyche of the serial killer, the forensic pathology novel aims instead to evoke the �appalling human messiness� of actual crime through a perspective nearer to that of the victim. By providing readers with not only a body of experts but an expert on the body the novelist allows them to listen to the voices of the dead.

    Item Type: Article
    Journal or Publication Title: Paradoxa: Terrain Vagues
    Additional Information: This article, which first appeared in Terrains vagues (Paradoxa no 20, 2006, ISBN: 1-929512-20-1), is reprinted with permission of the publisher. For more information about Paradoxa, visit
    Uncontrolled Keywords: crime fiction ; detective fiction ; police procedurals ; forensic pathology ; Gothic
    Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
    Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > English & Creative Writing
    ID Code: 808
    Deposited By: Dr Lee Horsley
    Deposited On: 02 Dec 2007
    Refereed?: Yes
    Published?: Published
    Last Modified: 04 Nov 2015 02:45
    Identification Number:

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