The “yellow” novel as a pretext, the “yellow” novel as heir


  • Isabella Merzagora


In Italy detective novels are identified using the color yellow because, since 1929 and for decades, there were few series dedicated
to this genre, and all the books belonging to the series had a yellow cover. This series was suddenly discontinued during the
Fascist era, because it was unacceptable to think that crimes could occur under the watchful eye of the Duce. Already these few
words make us understand that the Italian detective novel is deeply immersed in the culture of its historical framework, and
that’s exactly why crime novels become a pretext to describe historic, social and political environment, like “high” literature
does. So, if police genre could become helpful in understanding the world around us, it is also so successful because it is the heir
of the Novel with a capital. The argument will be sustained using examples taken from the different crime novel subgenres, and
also from the greatest writers that described crime. For what concerns relations between police stories and criminology, there
are some differences: criminology starts where detective novels end; the reader of a crime novel wants to track down the perp,
while criminology has already the responsible in hand and wants to know what he looks like, the reasons why he did it, what
to do with him and how to do so that the crime does not happen again. In the end, since authors writing about evil have ended
up very often writing about crime too, maybe it’s because criminology is not only a criminal science but also a science of evil?