Class-Based Scapegoats and the Decolonization of Literary Crime Fiction
The crime fiction genre is one of many clichés, including isolated locations, technology struggles, law enforcement errors, red herrings, and more. These clichés interact with various class, gender, language, and religious identities that influence how investigations evolve and how the genre is received by its audience. Tana French’s The Secret Place (2014) and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018) all interact with these genre conventions through isolated boarding schools and mansions on hilltops, law enforcement errors, investigative dynamic duos, and more, but the most significant of genre conventions is their consideration of the scapegoat and its functionality. In this essay, a scapegoat is a character knowingly forced to endure the blame and punishment for another’s actions. While these pieces follow genre conventions in the presence of a scapegoat, each piece of literature juggles red herrings and the class-based scapegoats in new lights. These pieces transcend the genre by forcefully calling out the class-based scapegoat, considering the perspective of the scapegoat, and vindicating the scapegoat. This essay will investigate the role of the scapegoat within The Secret Place and My Sister, the Serial Killer within the context of literary crime fiction genre conventions with Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth (1961) as a framework to examine the significance of class, race, and violence in the decolonization of literary crime fiction. Tana French and Oyinkan Braithwaite transcend genre conventions established by wealthy, white English authors such as Agatha Christie by confronting contemporary issues through their consideration of the class-based scapegoat. This confrontational transcendence utilizes scapegoats to call out the marginalization and oppression of diverse populations by privileged individuals and subsequently replace the traditionally privileged individuals with the previously marginalized people.
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