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Elaine Lee

on 6 May 2015

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Transcript of Mystery

1987 -
Presumed Innocent
Rusty Sabich is a prosecutor accused of the murder of his colleague and lover, Carolyn Polhemus, in Scott Turow's first novel,
Presumed Innocent
. The irony occurs when Sabich finds himself on the other side of the legal system, as a defendant struggling to prove his innocence. "Turow vividly renders trial procedure, capturing Stern's brilliant cross-examination of key state witnesses, the jury's reactions, and the constant bickering between prosecution, defense, and judge" (Hamilton & Jones).
However, this story is more than just a murder case with an outstanding depiction of court proceedings. In it, Turow "delves into complex philosophical questions about the nature of truth and morality," presented most undoubtedly in the form of Judge Lyttle, among others, whose motives behind dismissing the case remain unclear to the readers (Hamilton & Jones). With mystery and suspense framed in fraudulent politics,
Presumed Innocent
is "an early legal thriller that helped invent the genre" (Hamilton & Jones).
1990 -
Devil in a Blue Dress
As the novel that inaugurated Walter Mosley into the mystery genre,
Devil in a Blue Dress
details the story of a black man named Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins as he is hired to find Daphne Monet, also a person of interest to various other powerful parties. A detective fiction full of violence, money is the main driving force in the story behind many characters' actions. For Easy himself, money is the means by which he will finally have home ownership (Anderson). It is interesting to note that this recurring motif of wealth recognizes no racial or gender boundaries. However, Mosley does outline both issues in his book. He brings to light the racial aspect of this book particularly when Easy is fired because of a racial incident. Moreover, the issue of gender is demonstrated through the portrayal of Daphne Monet, a mulatto woman, as a manipulative character whose deception leads to the death of many (Anderson). With so many themes integrated throughout the novel, added to Mosley's knowledge of multiethnic Los Angeles, he was able to take the genre in a new direction.
2003 -
Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane's standalone novel,
Shutter Island
, "is a book replete with deception" (Rainone). Set in 1954, the plot revolves around the disappearance of a schizophrenic inmate on Shutter Island's Ashecliffe Hospital named Rachel Solando and the subsequent investigation by U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels. Lehane is praised for his beautiful sentence structures, evocative prose, and richly developed characters of the novel (Rainone). His story is built upon confusion, so much so that Anthony Rainone of
January Magazine
remarks, "In a novel so dependent on twists and deception, the innocence of every event is in doubt." Each character seems to carry their own baggage, and even the doctors and nurses at the hospital are more elusive than cooperative (Rainone). With all the surprises that Lehane has injected into the book,
Kirkus Reviews
Shutter Island
"a brilliantly far-fetched page-turner that’s sure to be the most talked-about thriller of the year" ("Shutter Island").
Stephen King's
is a novel about Carrieta "Carrie" White, a social outcast with an oppressive mother, who eventually discovers her telekinetic powers and uses them to exact revenge on her tormentors. It is "a tale of adolescent sexuality, telekinetics, cruelty, and revenge that keeps readers on the edge of their seats" (Mahoney). Carrie, a lonely, small-town girl wishing for normality, becomes a character with whom all readers can sympathize. However, King seems to not only portray Carrie as a victim but that, under the "suffocation and intolerance" of the town's bubble, the townspeople have become victims themselves (Mahoney). Without the supernatural elements, at its very core,
is a tragic story about bullying gone too far. Its exploration of this timeless theme makes it a classic mystery novel that "not only remains a page-turning tale of suspense, but also functions as a strong social critique by a visionary American writer" (Mahoney).
1962 -
Cover Her Face

Cover Her Face
is P.D. James's debut novel, centered around Detective Adam Dalgliesh's investigation of a homicide in the Maxie household. The victim is named Sally Jupp, an ambitious maid isolated from society due to her status as an unwed mother. While a mystery and crime novel, the author also provides social commentary on the crumbling aristocracy that is the Maxie family and experiments with the stigma often placed on single mothers (Gaydosik).
Despite being James's first publication,
Cover Her Face
was a success. Fans of the mystery genre could recognize "the skill with which the story was plotted and the realism with which the characters were delineated." James was further compared to the likes of Agatha Christie, as a leading contemporary writer in the mystery and detective fiction genre (Gaydosik).
P.D. James
Full name: Phyllis Dorothy James White
Born in London, England, James is the author of twenty books. Before publishing her first novel at age 42, James spent 30 years in British law enforcement. She had received numerous international and national awards for her works in the mystery/detective fiction genre. Her inspirations incude Jane Austen and Dorothy Sayers. She enjoyed roast duck and always kept a dictionary and a thesaurus, a pad of lined A4 paper, and a collection of ballpoint pens with black ink on her desk. She passed away in November of 2014, a few months after her last book
Death Comes to Pemberley
was published ("About the Author").
List of books:
Cover Her Face (1962)
A Mind to Murder (1963)
Unnatural Causes (1967)
Shroud for a Nightingale (1971)
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972)
The Black Tower (1975)
Death of an Expert Witness (1977)
Innocent Blood (1980)
The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982)
A Taste for Death (1986)
Devices and Desires (1989)
The Children of Men (1992)
Original Sin (1994)
A Certain Justice (1997)
Death in Holy Orders (2001)
The Murder Room (2003)
The Lighthouse (2005)
The Private Patient (2008)
Talking About Detective Fiction (2011)
Death Comes to Pemberley (2011)
Dubbed the "Queen of Crime," P.D. James was an acclaimed author of twenty published books most recognized as a leading writer in mystery and detective fiction. She had been compared to Agatha Christie and praised for her skills in establishing plot and characters (Gaydosik). In fact, she is described as "one of the finest describers of landscape and architecture" and "paid meticulous attention to sentences" (Lawson). Together with Ruth Rendell, P.D. James brought the genre of mystery critical respect and was able to remove "the assumption that the solution to a crime can achieve final consolation or peace" (Lawson). James had been a literary giant in the world of detective fiction, and her death was remarked as a loss of one of the finest English crime-writers of the 20th century (Lawson). The impacts she had made are everlasting, and as long as reading exists, her books will live on.
"About the Author." The Official Website of P.D. James. Web. 06 May 2015.

Anderson, Crystal. "Devil in a Blue Dress." Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File. Web. 4 May 2015.

Gaydosik, Victoria. “Cover Her Face.” Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File. Web. 4 May 2015.

Hamilton, Geoff, and Brian Jones. "Presumed Innocent." Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File. Web. 4 May 2015.

Lawson, Mark. "Ruth Rendell and PD James: Giants of Detective Fiction." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. 2 May 2015. Web. 6 May 2015.

Mahoney, Rita. “Carrie.” Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File. Web. 4 May 2015.

Rainone, Anthony. "Island of No Return." January Magazine. Aug. 2003. Web. 06 May 2015.

Works Cited
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