Detective Fiction, Nostalgia and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out : Making the Golden Age Great Again

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Journal / PublicationCrime Fiction Studies
Issue number2
Online publishedAug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


The Golden Age is back with a vengeance: reprints, re-boots, and adaptations of interwar detective fiction and its off-shoots have proliferated in the twenty-first century, as have works more loosely, but nonetheless substantially, inspired by the clue-puzzle format developed and perfected by authors like Agatha Christie. This resurgence of the ‘whodunnit’ mystery is something of mystery itself, as the centre of gravity of crime writing has long shifted away from this ostensibly dated and aesthetically limited form. This paper explores this unexpected development, looking in particular at the role of nostalgia in relation to new Golden Age mysteries. While nostalgia is frequently, and quite justly, viewed in negative terms as a personally and politically regressive phenomenon, in some cases, as in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out (2019), examined here, it can be used not simply as a dubious marketing or aesthetic strategy, but as part of a broader social critique in which one form of nostalgia is used to critique another.

Research Area(s)

  • crime fiction, Rian Johnson, Agatha Christie, Golden Age, nostalgia, Knives Out

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.