Introduction (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
During the first one hundred years after the creation of detective fiction during the 1840’s, the popular genre was dominated by two subgenres that are based on contrasting moral fantasies: classic, or orthodox, detective stories and hard-boiled detective fiction. During the 1940’s another subgenre began taking shape and threatened to overtake its predecessors in popularity, particularly in the realms of film and television adaptations: the police procedural. Not having developed organically from its predecessors, the police procedural is a radical departure from the basic cultural and social assumptions of the other two subgenres. As critic John G. Cawelti argues in his pioneering study, Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture (1976), the police procedural constitutes a different moral fantasy.
(The entire section is 122 words.)
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