Making sense of capital crime cities: Getting underneath the urban facade on crime-detective fiction tours

Nicky van Es*, Stijn Reijnders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Crime-detective fiction tours are increasingly popular in cities around the world, providing both international and domestic tourists alike the possibility to visit and experience urban space through its associations with their favorite novels and adaptations. Engaging in a comparison between guided literary tours through Sherlock Holmes’ London, Philip Marlowe’s Los Angeles and Lisbeth Salander’s Stockholm, this research aims to answer the question of how and in what way(s) these crime-detective fiction tours create a sense of place in the postmodern metropolis. Based on participant observation, as well as interviews with the guides and/or organizers of these tours, results show that each of these literary tours is particularly corresponding to the act of reading crime-detective fiction in general: the tours perform a re-enactment of the text, as the guide-as-detective takes the participants to unknown urban locations, in pursuit of unraveling hidden histories of the city. The locations addressed on the tours are all, to varying extents, made sense of through a combination of multiple narratives, derived from both historical fact and fiction. In gradually exposing, analyzing and unraveling these narrative layers of significance on location, the tours convey a distinctively modernistic myth of a presumed core identity of the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-520
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/ or publication of this article: This research has been financially supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) without any influence on, or interference with, the overall study design and content of the study itself (grant number: PR-11-77).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.


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