“Murder Without Text” Amanda Cross

Published 18 Sep 2017

“Murder Without a Text” is written by Amanda Cross, the pseudonym or pen name used by a mystery novel writer named Carolyn Gold Heibrun. Carolyn Gold Heibrun was an American academic and is well known to be a feminist writer. She was born on January 13, 1926 and died in October 9, 2003 after committing suicide, thinking that her life had already been completed.

In the short story, Murder Without Text, a murder case was filed against a seasoned feminist scholar. Allegedly, she bludgeoned a student to death. The murder in the story occurred during a highly controversial regarding women’s studies senior thesis seminar. Debatable conversation occurred in the seminar wherein a certain early Christian history specialist named Professor Beatrice Sterling, was having a hard time in persuading the students or at least make them understand that researches, especially those which are academic, and canonical texts are very crucial and relevant. The attitudes of the students during the seminar were a bit amusing, especially because it was quite similar, in some extent, to real life situations. It was a bit funny for a decent teacher, specializing in canonical texts, to lose her temper during the seminar, thinking that the students were rude and that it was comparable to rape (Cross, 1992).

The method used in solving the crime in this murder case was really amusing and quite intriguing. Solving crimes was possible and was done through the use of dialectics, or personal interviews with other characters, teachers and students. It is something unique as compared to the other murder novels written because the typically adventurous antics which involve a lot of movements and physical actions are not the main tool for solving the crimes or mysteries. It adds to a certain “reality” in the short story. Similarly, interrogations in real life situations are actually a good source of information as to solve a certain mystery, especially about a murder in a public place. As Nichols and Thompson states, the method of solving crimes in the novel includes detection with a curious mixture or certain combinations of intuition and a lot of logic (1998). Carolyn Gold Heibrun, famously known as Amanda Cross, really did a great job in putting or forging a lot of literary links and creativity in the dialogues and interviews conducted to solve the murder mystery.

The short story, Murder Without Text, feminism is a topic which cannot be missed. Amanda Cross’ feminism creates a certain foreground of a tension that comes into view between the critiques of one generation to the other, of young students and older teachers or professors. Especially in the aspect of patriarchal masculinism like when the students would constantly talk about real sex-workers or even the real victims of botched abortions and homeless women. The students talking more about these topics seem to cause or give readers a feeling of creepiness. Teenagers nowadays often talk about computers or computer games. Things or topics which are somewhat serious or too technical especially politics and social issues are sometimes neglected.

Furthermore, there is a certain difference or clash of opinions between the two generations or between the students and the teachers, especially in the aspect of self-reflexive articulation of the differences among women. The short story provides or shows these differences in forms such as generational, disciplinary and may also include methodological. This occurs not only between the students and the teachers but among the teachers as well.

The mystery and intriguing plot, as to how the murder was committed was well told by the author. It is also interesting to imagine that teachers could resort to violence in dealing with their students. When Sterling mentioned that the young, or the students, were generally rude, I somewhat felt like arguing. True, the youth today seem to be a bit radical and really enthusiastic about things, but that’s simply it and really rude. Sometimes, students or the youth could be insensitive or a bit selfish, but it is a fallacy to generalize that the youth are rude.

The writer, Carolyn Gold Heibrun or Amanda Cross, is able to show that in life, influences of privilege plays an important role. Through the short story, a reader may somewhat realize that world could be unfair and that there may also be dangers even at school. Recapitulating the murder case filed against the teacher, it is a bit humorous to think that teachers, in real life, do kill their students, only figuratively. In some parts of the short story, the author tends to be fond of using quotations. As such, there are some instances wherein the author, Amanda Cross, would seem to force her be dragged in almost each and every scholarly citations (Paul, 1991).

The short story is good, for it presents a new kind of solving mysteries. If I would be recommending a short story, then I would recommend Amanda Cross’s “Murder Without Text”, especially to those who love murder stories and fans of Sherlock. Furthermore, it would be really interesting if this short story, or the collection of Amanda Cross’ short stories would be put or made to film. After reading the short story, I am convinced that mystery indeed is fascinating.

Works Cited

  • Cross, Amanda. Murder without Text. A Woman’s Eye. Ed. Sara Paretsky. New York: Dell Publishing Incorporated, 1992.
  • Nichols, Victoria, and Susan Thompson. Silk Stalkings: More Women Write of Murder. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press, 2000.
  • Paul, Robert S. Whatever Happened to Sherlock Holmes? Detective Fiction, Popular Theology, and Society. Carbondale, Illinois, USA: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991.
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