1940- Born in the UK, Stephen Knight came to Australia when he was appointed Teaching Fellow at the University of Sydney in 1963, then lecturer in English the following the year. He went on to hold senior positions at the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne, before returning to England in 1992 to take up a chair at De Montford University, Leicester. As well as numerous scholarly works in the area of medieval English literature, Knight's long held interest in crime fiction led him to him editing several anthologies of Australian crime stories. He was awarded the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.
Starting with William Godwin’s Caleb Williams and Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly, this book covers in detail the great works of detective fiction—Poe’s Dupin stories, Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Sayers’ Strong Poison, Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and Simenon’s The Yellow Dog. Lesser-known but important early works are also discussed, including Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, Émile Gaboriau’s M. Lecoq, Anna Katharine Green’s The Leavenworth Case and Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
More recent titles show increasing variety in the mystery genre, with Patricia Highsmith’s criminal-focused The Talented Mr. Ripley and Chester Himes’ African-American detectives in Cotton Comes to Harlem. Diversity develops further in Sara Paretsky’s tough woman detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only, Umberto Eco’s medievalist and postmodern The Name of the Rose and the forensic feminism of Patricia Cornwell’s Postmortem. Notably, the best modern crime fiction has been primarily international—Manuel Vásquez Montalbán’s Catalan Summer Seas, Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh-set The Naming of the Dead, Sweden’s Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and Vikram Chanda’s Mumbai-based Sacred Games.