Critical Analysis of the Skull Beneath the Skin
It could be said that The Skull beneath the Skin is quite typical of the crime genre, however P.D. James has somewhat subverted the genre. The novel incorporates a combination of Intuitionist, Realist and Hard Boiled styles of crime fiction. Usually crime novels fall into one of the three afore mentioned styles. Although obviously an Intuitionist or classically styled crime novel, Skull beneath the Skins as I have previously stated incorporates all three creating a unique novel while still following the traditions and conventions of the crime genre. This can be seen from this essay reference will be made to setting, dialogue, characterisation, dramatic irony, humour, narrative structure and the conventions of crime fiction.
Setting is a
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The audience learns that Ambrose has been behind all of Clarissa Lisle’s problems, the cover up behind her murder and the eventual murder of Simon Lessing all to cover up for his tax evasion. He clearly fits the crime fiction stereotype ‘Baddie’ he is highly intelligent, leaves ingenious false trails and clever alibis and is quite a match for the S.B.T.S detective Cordelia Gray.
S.B.T.S generally follows the conventional narrative structure that is it follows a linear structure with a start, middle and finish. This linear structure is a trait of crime fiction as it’s believed the average reader finds it comforting. P.D. James uses the technique of Foreshadowing, typical of the crime genre this technique is used to keep the plot tight and believable. It is where something used in the plot is foreshadowed by referring to it earlier in the text. An example of this in S.B.T.S is Cordelia’s mention of losing her belt
‘There was only one other thing she wished to have, the leather belt. But it was no longer round her waist, somewhere and somehow during the day’s activities she had lost it’
It is possible that the reader may believe the scene where Cordelia is saved by the fisherman who was returning her belt without foreshadowing the loss of the belt however by mentioning the loss of the belt previous to this scene the situation becomes more believable.