Crime fiction has been one of the most popular genres since the 19th century, but has roots in works as varied as Sophocles, Herodotus, and Shakespeare. In this Very Short Introduction Richard Bradford explores the history of the genre, by considering the various definitions of 'crime fiction' and looking at how it has developed over time. Discussing the popularity of crime fiction worldwide and its various styles; the role that gender plays within the genre; spy fiction, and legal dramas and thrillers; he explores how the crime novel was shaped by the work of British and American authors in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlighting the works of notorious authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler - to name but a few - he considers the role of the crime novel in modern popular culture and asks whether we can, and whether we should, consider crime fiction serious 'literature'. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.