Crime fiction and global capital

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The world of crime, seen from the outside as violent and disorderly, in fact operates according to the rational logic of business and hence of capitalism as “a non-violent, civilized mode of material self-enrichment through market exchange”. This chapter examines how what Harvey calls the “spatial fix” – where the problems of over-accumulation are “solved” by colonial and neocolonial practices of theft or dispossession – is interrogated in or by the global turn in crime fiction. If the symbiotic relationship between crime and business has been a feature of crime stories from the early 1800s onwards, the thematisation found its fullest initial articulation in the hardboiled US crime stories of the 1920s and 1930s. For the proto-capitalist gangsters of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, failure “to keep abreast” of the expansionist tendencies of capitalism means, as R. Luxemburg puts it, “quitting the competitive struggle” and not just “economic death” but perhaps also death quite literally.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge companion to crime fiction
EditorsJanice Allan, Jesper Gulddal, Stewart King, Andrew Pepper
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780429453342
ISBN (Print)9781138320352, 9781032570525
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2020


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