BLS 325: Mystery, Mayhem, & Murder

It was a dark night in the city that never sleeps. Almost anybody who reads this line would suspect that what they’re reading is the beginning of a detective story. (And some alert readers will recognize that line as the opening to a case for detective Guy Noir, one of Garrison Keillor’s characters on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion.) We’re familiar with the genre from movies, television, books, even stories on the news. If we read because we love a good story, we read mystery and detective fiction because we love a good story that keeps us in the dark. This course explores the appeal of the mystery and detective story, as well as investigates the methods and approaches that writers use to make the genre work. The course is more generally about stories, about the way we make them and the way we come to understand and enjoy them.


  • Griffith, Kelley. Writing Essays About Literature, 7th ed. Heinle, 2005. ISBN 1413003958
  • Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Berkley, 2000. ISBN 0425173895
  • Mosley, Walter. Little Scarlet. Warner, 2005. ISBN 0446612715
  • Highsmith, Patricia. The Talented Mr. Ripley. Vintage, 1992. ISBN 0679742298
  • James, P.D. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Touchstone, 2001. ISBN 0743219554