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Darya Dontsova’s ‘sleuthettes’: a case of the regendering of the post-Soviet Russian detektiv?

by Lyndall Morgan

It is widely acknowledged that the detective story/mystery novel has been the success story of the past century and a half. From its humble beginnings, traditionally assumed to coincide with the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’, the genre has grown almost exponentially. In his recent survey of the genre, Stephen Knight quotes some impressive figures: over a billion copies of Agatha Christie’s novels sold by 2000 and an increase in the number of feminist detectives in American crime fiction from 40 to 400 between 1980 and 2000. Knight further notes that ‘a third of the fiction published in English belongs to the genre’. In the Russian context, equally remarkable is the claim by Stephen Lovell that there were 30 million pirated copies of Agatha Christie’s works published in Russian between 1986 and 1993.

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