Josephine Tey and her descendants
Conservative modernity and the female crime novel
in End of empire and the English novel since 1945
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Crime fiction has always thrived on the narrative possibilities of the social and political landscapes of modernity, building its plots on the real and imagined violence that change seems always to threaten. This chapter traces the writing and rewriting of empire's effects in two connected novels by two British women crime writers of succeeding generations. Loved or hated, regretted or mourned, the loss of empire radically transformed British identity. The fragments of Josephine Tey's plot and themes do resurface in Ruth Rendell's 1994 novel Simisola. The opening of Simisola makes an interesting contrast to the beginning of The Franchise Affair. The Franchise Affair in which imperial traces are both present and disavowed, Simisola boldly confronts the effects of empire and neo-colonialism in modern multicultural Britain. Like Parekh, Simisola suggests that the residue of empire is evident in systemic racism, in a country now irrevocably multi-ethnic and multi-racial.



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