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:
Journal 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 fictiondetective fictionpolice proceduralsforensic pathologygothicpe english ??
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Deposited On:
02 Dec 2007
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 11:29