Creative Project: Cherry Pie
Cherry Pie is a crime novel, the third in a series starring Simone Kirsch - exstripper,
sex kitten, private investigator and drinker of more cheap wine than is good for
her. The book opens with Simone attempting to set up her own detective agency. She’s
willing to bump, grind and shimmy until she has money enough to make it happen. But
nothing ever really runs quite to plan for Simone.
Andi Fowler, a childhood friend and now journalism student, turns up at the strip
joint in need of a detective yet unwilling to tell Simone anything more than she's got
something explosively big on someone in hospitality. And the whole frenetically fast,
chaotically connected case starts right there.
By the next afternoon, Andi's vanished mysteriously. Restaurant corruption, an
insane celebrity chef, an untraceable possum head, a conveniently absent boyfriend and a
surprising amount of family history aside, Simone still has to deal with her continuing
desire for Alex, her favourite policeman, while racing the clock in her desperate search
Critical Exegesis: Trixie Belden: Godmother of Tart Noir?
The Trixie Belden mystery series, about a tomboyish girl detective, was published
in the US from 1948-86. I was a huge fan as a child and it wasn’t until my first novel
Peepshow was published that I remembered how obsessed I had been with the books, and
wondered if my character Simone was based on Trixie, but if Trixie had grown up in the
nineteen eighties in an alternative community and ended up employed in the adult
entertainment industry. Trixie was very different to the more popular Nancy Drew, who
was traditionally feminine, upper middle class and perfect in every way.
Most reviews of Peepshow described it as Tart Noir, a subgenre I had never heard
of. I perused the Tart-Noir website, run by authors Lauren Henderson, Stella Duffy,
Sparkle Hayter and Katy Munger who described it thus:
Tart. It’s a potent four-letter word. Sweet, sour, sharp, sexy, bad, with a touch of
cheesecake. It seemed to sum up the detectives in our segment of the crime fiction
genre, the independent minded female sleuths who are tough enough to take on
thugs and corrupt cops, tender enough to be moved by tough, tender men (or
women as the case may be). These are neo-feminist women, half Phillip Marlowe,
half femme fatale, who make their own rules, who think it’s entirely possible to
save the world while wearing a drop-dead dress and four inch heels.
I read an interview with one of the Tart Noir authors, Stella Duffy, where she cited Trixie
Belden as an early influence. Other female crime writers have told me Trixie influenced
them, also. The critical exegesis examines class and gender in Trixie Belden books and
Tart Noir Novels in an attempt to establish a link between the two. Just as Lou Reed is
often described as the godfather of punk, the essay will determine whether or not Trixie
Belden is the godmother of Tart Noir.