Readers in Latin America countries of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean have long been attracted to mystery fiction. Because of their different perceptions of corruption in their public institutions, including their legal systems, the development and presentation of protagonists in their mystery and detective fiction varies markedly from the models one finds in North American mystery novels.
Mystery literary works in Latin America fall into two distinct groups. The first group, known as novelas de enigma, follows the classic mystery model of whodunits, which present readers with crimes and investigators who solve those crimes using logic and judicial resources. The novela de enigma formula usually presents investigators as gentlemanly amateurs who are detached from others who are involved in the crimes. These works generally do not evaluate, either directly or indirectly, the sociopolitical realities of the societies in which their mysteries are situated.
The second group, novelas negras, which are equivalent to hard-boiled detective novels, evolved as a negative reaction to the lack of realistic representations of social, psychological, and economic realities of the modern world in Latin American mystery fiction. In the United States, Prohibition, the Great Depression, gangsters, and other forms of social unrest created a populace that expected more realistic and critical representations of...
(The entire section is 503 words.)