Plots of land

Urban regeneration in contemporary British procedural novels

Authored by: Peter Clandfield

The Routledge Companion on Architecture, Literature and The City

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472482730
eBook ISBN: 9781315613154
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315613154-5

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Abstract

Raymond Chandler, in his essay ‘The Simple Art of Murder,’ links 20th-century crime fiction to specific built environments: ‘The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, in which hotels and apartment houses and celebrated restaurants are owned by men who made their money out of brothels.’ 1 Extending this spatial purview, and the social commentary it grounds, 21st-century crime novels explore evolving versions of a world where developer and landlord can be not just money-laundering guises for gangsters, but aspirational identities offering multiple opportunities for efficient exploitation of built places and their users. Such exploitation represents an underside of the utopian urbanism of architects like Le Corbusier, who sought to design crime, disease, and other individual and social ills out of existence. In The Architectural Uncanny (1992), Anthony Vidler explores the nostalgia generated in gaps between this aspiration and its uneven and compromised realizations in urban environments that continue to be shaped as much by coercion and greed as by progressive planning. 2

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