Murder, Lust, and Larceny

Murder, Lust, and Larceny rounds up arresting new work by and about women.

I started this—our first—crime issue like a detective. My questions ranged from the literary, Can poetry go noir? Are hard-boiled stories ever highbrow? to the contextual, Are all femmes fatales sexist? Does crime writing fetishize violence against women? In spite of apparent answers, I pressed on, thinking we could subvert any shortcomings of the genre. So when it came time to call for submissions, we asked for feminist fatale tales, for writing that turns the tables on the tropes.

Our contributors, as always, delivered. The poems and stories in “Murder, Lust, and Larceny” present an unconventional cast that includes cunning canyon dwellers, a riddling shoplifter, Mata Hari, and two cat killers.

The writing provokes more questions, like about why we consume trials (Adrienne Weiss, page 22) when the “television dumps another murder” (Jayelle Bond, page 6) into our living rooms, while Angela Strassheim’s forensic art (page 51) raises conflicting queries, as she illuminates past tragedies in other living rooms.

When assembling our featured writers for the issue, it was satisfying to find mainstream crime literature already subverting itself. Both Alice Kuipers and Yasuko Thanh are winners of Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s biggest prize for the genre. Kuipers won for a book about the aftermath of a violent act, told by a poetic teenage diarist. In our interview with her (page 17), she touches on this expansion of the crime genre. And in “Jewel” (page 40), Thanh pushes the genre: crimes are committed, but not those seen at first glance. Today, celebrated crime writing does not need an open and shut case.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t need justice. One of my earlier questions is based on the fact that women are more likely to be on the receiving end of violent crime, and the knowledge that some groups of women are even more likely to be targeted. In our BackRoom interview, Michèle Audette talks about Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The biggest crime? The lack of justice.

I hope “Murder, Lust, and Larceny” provokes questions from you, too. Bring out your inner detective and follow our trail of clues this way …

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