Crime and Comedy: The Lighter Side of Crime and Misdemeanor

Fall 2007

Crime and comedy might seem to be polar opposites, but comic elements have been cropping up in crime fiction ever since Edgar Allan Poe wrote the first detective story. With Poe and Agatha Christie as well as the hard-boiled detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, comic elements, however, are merely side effects. Today, a growing number of authors deliberately create comic novels for an enthusiastic audience. These writers are transcending existing genres and creating new ones with such varied comic elements as the hero might be the criminal, dogs or cats are the sidekick of the hero, or the crime genre itself is parodied. The five novels in this new series promise uproarious fun in presenting the range of what contemporary authors are generating. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion series. Although these authors at times slip in serious matters, they guarantee to evoke laughter!

Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at or dropping by OCU’s Walker Center 171 (southwest corner of the building just south of NW 26th and Florida). Since we have only 54 sets of books, please check them out only if you plan to attend the series. Information can also be found on the web site of the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature:

The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 18 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through November 13. Books, theme materials, and services for this series are provided by “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” a cooperative project of the Oklahoma Library Association and the Oklahoma Humanities Council. “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” is funded by grants from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Inasmuch Foundation and by individual donations. Funding for this series is provided by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


9/18/2007 P.G. Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters

The Code of the Woosters by master of comic fiction P. G. Wodehouse launches our series. The antics of Bertie Wooster and his “gentleman’s personal gentleman” Jeeves will make us feel at home in the growing trend of comic crime fiction. A valet proves indispensable!

10/2/2007 Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams

Block packs his convoluted plot with references to other mystery novelists along with the escapades of his main character Bernie Rhodenbarr, a Greenwich Village bookseller who makes most of his money burglarizing wealthy people. When he discovers a grand locked room murder, he gathers together all of the suspects to present the solution.

10/16/2007 Carl Hiaasen’s Native Tongue

Original and wonderfully entertaining, Hiaasen pits environmentalists against real-estate developers in Florida’s Key Largo. Burned out journalist Joe Winder must discover who stole the blue-tongued mango voles from the Amazing Kingdom theme park. To do so, he must survive not only the swamp but also an eco-tourist geriatric.

10/30/2007 Parnell Hall’s Cozy

Hall’s popular Stanley Hastings provides the series with its only private detective, and yet he is on vacation at an inn with his wife. When another guest falls dead, Stanley resorts to an Agatha Christie novel he is reading as well as the assistance of a cat and a dog to bring coherence to the chaos the local police chief creates. Hall pokes fun at crime novel itself

11/13/2007 Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money

The first book in Evanovich’s best-selling series featuring big-haired bounty hunter Stephanie Plum will provide the series to a grand comic finale. Having lost her job as a lingerie buyer, Stephanie decides in desperation to work as a “fugitive apprehension agent.” for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman. Having hocked most of her possessions, she must work for a living.