Sensational Bodies: Villains and Victims
Hoffman analyses the treatment of the female murder victim’s body as well as the female killer’s body in golden age crime narratives. Women’s bodies represent sites of transgression that must be contained at the narrative’s conclusion so that order can be restored. Texts examined in this chapter include Agatha Christie’s Peril at End House (1932), Lord Edgware Dies (1933), Dumb Witness (1937), Evil Under the Sun (1941) and The Body in the Library (1942), as well as Gladys Mitchell’s Speedy Death (1929) and Dorothy L. Sayers’ Unnatural Death (1927). Hoffman argues that the bodies of women killers and victims in these texts are occasions of confusion, disguise and deception, emphasising both a disruption of social order and the instability of class and gender stereotypes.