Hidden gems of German crime fiction revealed

New research led by a Swansea expert has revealed the rich tradition of crime fiction in the German-speaking world, from Nazi-era and Cold War thrillers to Turkish-German crime fiction and the enormously popular TV dramas known as Fernsehkrimis.

The research is published in a new book, Crime Fiction in German, edited by Dr Katharina Hall, associate professor in German at Swansea University, and published by University of Wales Press

It comes as British audiences continue to show a remarkable appetite for high-quality international crime fiction, in written and televisual form. German drama has also recently been in the spotlight with the success of Channel 4’s Cold War spy thriller Deutschland 83.

Katharina Hall - Crime Fiction in German

The book’s introductory chapter is available free to download.  An international crime fiction blog, Mrs Peabody Investigates, which is run by Dr Hall, has been used as a case study to highlight the impact of Swansea University research outside the academic world.

Giving open access to this chapter via the Cronfa site, a move funded by Swansea University, takes this commitment to broader access to research in a new direction. 

Download the first chapter free

Crime Fiction in German is the first volume in English to offer a comprehensive overview of German-language crime fiction from its origins in the early nineteenth century to its vibrant growth in the new millennium.

Introducing readers to crime fiction from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the former East Germany, the volume also expands the notion of a German crime-writing tradition by investigating Nazi crime fiction, Jewish-German crime fiction, Turkish-German crime fiction and the Afrika-Krimi.

Other key areas, including the West German social crime novel, women’s crime writing, regional crime fiction, historical crime fiction and the Fernsehkrimi (TV crime drama) are also explored, highlighting the genre’s distinctive features in German-language contexts.

The volume includes a map of German-speaking Europe, a chronology of crime publishing milestones, extracts from primary texts, and an annotated bibliography of print and online sources in English and German.

Crime Fiction  in German covers x 2

Picture:  hardback and paperback versions, with an artefact from the recent British Museum "Germany" exhibition

The contributors - Julia Augart (University of Namibia), Marieke Krajenbrink (University of Limerick), Katharina Hall (Swansea University), Martin Rosenstock (Gulf University, Kuwait), Faye Stewart (Georgia State University), Mary Tannert (editor of Early German and Austrian Detective Fiction)- are all experts in the field of crime fiction studies.

Editor Dr Katharina Hall has spoken on the subject of German-language crime fiction in the media and at events run by the Goethe Institut. She is also a judge for the Petrona award for new international crime fiction. 

Dr Katharina Hall said:

“German crime fiction has been overlooked for too long outside the German-speaking world. It has a very long pedigree - in fact it could be claimed that the first detective story was written in German. To this day, crime fiction remains enormously popular across the German-speaking world. 

I’m very excited to be bringing some of the finer examples of the genre to a wider audience. I hope we’ll see more translations of German crime novels as a result.” 

Free chapter gives access to all

The open access chapter in the book, entitled ‘Crime Fiction in German: Concepts, Developments and Trends’, provides an overview of the volume and German-language crime fiction.

Dr Hall explained:

“While the book is an academic volume that I hope will be useful to scholars in the field, a key aim has been to make the book accessible to all readers with an interest in crime fiction, not just to academic experts. 

This is why I was pleased we were able to offer a free chapter. The open access chapter forms part of the ‘Mrs. Peabody Investigates’ impact project, which aims to disseminate research widely beyond academia.”

Download the first chapter free, from Cronfa

Mrs Peabody Investigates

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Watch:  Trailer for hit Channel 4 German-language spy thriller Deutschland 83.