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
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 Cornwellâ��s Scarpetta series, but we also discuss a growing number of other novels that confront readers with the â��realityâ�� 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 Frenchâ��s The Red Room (2001) and Jan Burkeâ��s Bones (1999), the female protagonistâ��s reading of the crime is determined by alternative forms of first-hand access to the â��underworldâ�� 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 â��appalling human messinessâ�� 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.
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