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Sara Paretsky is known for her influential V.I. Warshawski series, which transformed the masculine hard-boiled detective formula into a vehicle for feminist values. But Paretsky does more than this. Her novels also illustrate the extent to which detective fiction acts as a literature of trauma, allowing Paretsky to address the politics of agency in ways that go beyond the personal, for trauma always has a social and a political dimension. Paretsky's work also exploits the way detective fiction mirrors the writing of history. Here, Paretsky uses the form to expose the partiality of historical accounts - whether they be personal, institutional, or national - that authorise 'forgetting' of a particularly insidious kind. Significantly, all these issues are explored within the framework of the traditional hard-boiled detective novel. As a result, Paretsky's achievement forces us to acknowledge the deeply subversive potential of detective fiction.
About the Author
Cynthia S. Hamilton is Professor of American Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool Hope University