This essay examines detective fiction that takes New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina as setting and theme. It explores the ways in which stories told in novels and prime-time TV shows across the interlocking genres of police procedural and crime thriller have steered a sensationalist course through the recovery of the city over the last five years. It considers the role and representation of the New Orleans Police Department in particular, and of law enforcement officials more broadly, as post-Katrina protagonists who protect and serve the city, a rejoinder to media-made myths according to which they deserted their posts in the days after the storm. It closes with a case study of FOX TV's K-Ville, the first television series to depict New Orleans post-Katrina in a sustained way, and investigates the extent to which it was judged harshly for translating the disaster into a formulaic cop show. Deep-seated assumptions about genre, narrative form, the burden of representation and popular ideas about this particular locale inform the reception of these genre fictions.
Nahem Yousaf is Professor of English and Head of the English Department at Nottingham Trent University, UK. Email: Nahem.Yousaf@ntu.ac.uk.