Detecting identity: reading the clues in German-language crime fiction by Klupfel and Kobr and Steinfest
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Much contemporary European crime fiction emphasizes the local and the regional. In part this is a reaction to globalization and in part it reflects the reality of European identity today, which exhibits a complex web of local, regional, national, and European allegiances. An analysis of two popular German language crime series, one set in Southern Germany and the other in Austria, teases out the characters' multidimensional identities, in which the local is depicted in combination with, but also in resistance to, the global. The crime investigators differ necessarily from American hardboiled detective figures, and the crime investigations are vehicles for examining society. Humor and satire in the portrayal of the characters' thoughts and behavior allow the narratives to convey regional pride, while simultaneously forestalling any reading of their pride as narrow and nationalistic, as was often the case with Heimat literature and films from earlier periods. The popularity of the novels is evidence that the interplay of the local, regional, and national in the characters' identities resonates with a broad cross-section of German and Austrian readers, and that it demonstrates a mature nuanced society.