What's literary noir? How do British and American noir thrillers relate to their historic contexts? In contemplating such questions, this examine levels over hundreds and hundreds of novels, analysing the politics and poetics of noir from the hard-boiled fiction of Hammett, Chandler and Cain to the interesting variety of nineties thrillers, with sections at the difficult investigators, gangsters and sufferers of the melancholy years: the first-person killers, femmes fatales and black protagonists of mid-century; the game-players, voyeurs and shoppers of latest thrillers and destiny noir.

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