Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Hard-Boiled & Noir


“Hard-boiled” entered American slang after World War I when drill sergeants turned civilian boys into soldiers. The term referred to those individuals who adopted a tough, unsentimental point of view. Although the first piece of noir fiction appeared in the late 1920s, the sub-genre only began to flourish with the development of paperback originals in the 1950s. Publishers of this format proved less inhibited with regard to sex, violence, and a cynical tone. Hard-boiled novels lacked many of the traditional elements found in the English drawing-room mysteries, focusing instead on “real” crime and criminals, the working classes, and urban locales. The prose of noir authors reflected these settings and situations in their adoption of slang and colloquialisms. Wisecracks demonstrated a dislike for authority figures.

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