Category Archives: Femme fatale

Crime Factory femme fatales

I have been meaning to post for the last few days about the March 5 launch of Crime Factory Publications.

It was a good night. A decent sized crowd rocked up to Grumpy’s Green in Fitzroy to hear readings by Adrian McKinty, Leigh Redhead, David Whish Wilson and Megan Abbott. The jazz band After Dark My Sweet, were on fire. We even sold a few copies of the local edition of Crime Factory: The First Shift.

The highlight for me was meeting US noir author Megan Abbott. Not only is she a fantastic writer, she was incredibly generous with her time and thoughts about all things crime fiction and noir.

She read was from her upcoming book Dare Me. Dare Me is her most contemporary novel to date, set amongst the world of competitive cheerleading. I’d never thought about cheerleaders as akin to US servicemen or, better still, the modern American equivalent of gladiators. But talking to Megan about what inspired Dare Me, and the research she did for it, neither analogy sounds too far from the mark.

I can’t tell you how much I am dying to read it.

I won’t say anything more now. I managed to grab an hour before the launch to interview Megan for the next issue of Crime Factory.… Read more

The two faces of the femme fatale

Matilda Devine, criminal record number 659LB, 27 May 1925. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW

Ann Savage from the 1945 film noir classic, Detour

The femme fatale is a staple character of crime fiction and film. Last weekend, I got a glimpse of the reality behind screen and literary presentations of female criminality at an exhibition into Australia’s famous female criminals, currently taking place at Geelong’s National Wool Museum.

You don’t have to have a PhD in cultural studies to realise that our fascination with women as deviants is deeply rooted in conceptions that stretch back to the Bible (Eve, anyone?), fairy and folk tales. The exhibition, Femme Fatale: The female criminal opens with a quote by Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso from 1893 that epitomises this worldview: “The born female is, so to speak, doubly exceptional, first as a women and then as a criminal. This is because criminals are an exception among civilised people and women are the exception among criminals… As a double exception, then, the criminal woman is a monster.”

The exhibition includes a pretty grim history of the illegal or backyard abortion industry, the women who often ran it and the police who profited from protecting it. This includes some amazing police crime scene photos (not for the faint hearted) of the premises in which back yard abortionists operated.… Read more