commissaire inspector dottore

academic and personal thoughts on detective-inspector novels

essays may contain spoilers


cid is a bibliography of detective-inspector police procedurals, and of their translations into selected European languages (Danish, English, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Polish, Spanish, and Swedish. Also included is a selected bibliography of secondary scholarly work on crime fiction, especially procedurals.

cid includes essays on detective-inspector novels, the themes and ideas they evoke, and other topics more or less tangentially related to detective-inspector fiction. I've subtitled the site "academic and personal thoughts" because to my mind the academic and the personal are inseparable, especially in the case of a genre that has consumed so much of my attention for the fifty years of my reading life.

The definition of a detective-inspector novel is discussed at length in the linked essay: basically, it's a crime novel that involves a police investigation, includes a substantial amount of teamwork and law-enforcement routine, but also features a central character who is a middle manager. The basis of inclusion, though, always comes down to whether I think a text or series is of interest, and I stretch this definition liberally at its margins.

Most of the novels listed here belong to series, which seems to be the natural form for crime fiction generally, but especially for procedurals. The team that's worked together for a while, belongs to an entrenched bureaucracy, and is enmeshed in a city of greater or less size is a crucial element of the detective-inspector series. Such teams rarely have just one big adventure, at least in fiction.

cid is limited to novels (text or graphic). Many short stories, feature films, television series, and even some plays and works in other media could be included, but life is short and the project unfinishable as it is. I actually take consolation in its unfinishability: the detective-inspector genre is apparently inexhaustible and continually productive.

Be aware before you open any of the essays here that I may at any time reveal identities of murderers, methods of killing and detection, character arcs, and other surprises that provide many mystery readers with the central pleasures of the genre. Spoilers are my stock in trade here, because I've found that I can't discuss detective fiction in depth without resorting to them; and inevitably there's an essay that discusses why.

There are many internal links here, some more systematic than others. To navigate, click "cid" at the top left of every page and you will return to the initial home page.