LeRoy Lad Panek’s Nineteenth Century Detective Fiction: An Analytical History


  • H Fogarty


In Nineteenth Century Detective Fiction: An Analytical History, LeRoy Lad Panek examines an archive of transatlantic periodical detective fiction alongside canonical nineteenth-century authors to trace the rich variety of forms, themes, and characters that emerged across detective fiction during the nineteenth century. Situating these works within the context of book, periodical, and legal history, Panek demonstrates how the range of detective fiction that flourished in the periodical press during the nineteenth century adds to, and complicates, typical critical understandings of the genre as based on a few canonical authors—primarily Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Wilkie Collins. In fact, one of the most striking points of Panek’s argument is that our understanding of detective fiction as it was read, circulated, and received during the nineteenth century is not only incomplete but inaccurate, given the breadth of material that has been omitted or lost entirely. In overlooking the variety of media where detective fiction could be found—such as magazines, story papers, and newspapers—we miss key moves in the genre’s development as well as how wide-ranging detective fiction’s readership was in terms of age, gender, class, and education.