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This study is one of the very few academic works to investigate cooking as a prime category of detection. It examines how cooking and eating transform the identity of the detective, the nature of the crime, the space of mystery, the time of fiction, and even our engagement with the text.


“This study meets an important gap in theories of popular literature. Essays and books, as noted by the author, have been published on gourmet sleuths, but none has focused on cooking and eating as primary concerns in detective fiction. Nieves Pascual sustains that hands-on cooking affects investigatory methods and ensures the detective’s success in the solution of the crime. Perceptively, the author discovers a new mystery subgenre, of which hardly anything has been written, and proceeds to define its parameters in a succinct and admirably concise fashion.” – Prof. Slavka Tomascikova, Pavol Josef Safarik University

“Having taught and published on crime fiction myself the importance of cooking and meals in the genre--from the hard-boiled hero’s staunch disregard for regular meals to the importance given to the pleasures of eating in the Poirot and Maigret stories Dr. Pascual details--has previously struck me as a significant omission in the critical literature. In addition to filling this gap, the proposal is highly original. Undoubtedly the consumption of crime fiction has culinary overtones: such books are often said to be ‘devoured’ or ‘gulped down in a single sitting.’ This imagery is arguably of more interest with regard to crime fiction than to, say, fantasy and romance fiction, because the genre’s subject matter--murder--is the exact opposite of feeding and nurturing the body. Does the contradiction help to explain, and to justify, our interest? In what ways?” – Dr. Eluned Summers-Bremner, University of Auckland

“Pascual finds out that it is a current feature of the culinary whodunit that bodies become synonymous of foods, a notion that makes her advance along the territory of the symbolic conceptualizations that try to make sense of human life. Taste and tastelessness in murder or food, jokes that make crime “palatable”, female vegetarians and male meat-eaters, simulation and diet food, cozy ornamentation and pets are, among others, clues interpreted by the author that eventually take her readers along an intellectual path that concludes that “the same kind of structural similarity exists between a recipe and a mystery pattern.” – Prof. Francisco Collado-Rodríguez, Universidad de Zaragoza

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Slavka Tomascikova
1. What did Sherlock Holmes Eat?
Feminizing the Formula
The Genre of Non-Euclidean Eating
List of Authors and Characters 2. The Romantic Cook
Postfeminism: Having Your Cake and Eating It
The Republic
Killing Mothers
3. Criminal Cooking
Death by Tastelessness
Vegetarians and Nazis
The Social Politics of Food Charades
4. Poetics of the Kitchen
A Theory of Coziness
Pet Philosophy
Slow Food
5. The Pleasure of Plating Up
Reading Bodies
Salivation Flows
Fictional Bibliography
Critical Bibliography

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