Much about detective fiction is uncertain. There are, for example, all the various genres and sub-genres of which it is composed. It is often difficult to find agreement on what would appear the most basic generic distinctions, such as those between detective and crime fiction, and the whodunit and the thriller; and there are those who would argue that other closely related categories - such as noir, which has become, for others, synonymous with crime/detective fiction, and particularly the hard-boiled variety - do not constitute genres at all. On the other hand, there are also the certainties, which it has become de rigueur to mention at the beginning of volumes such as this. It is, for example, quite certain that critical interest in this literary 'genre' has flourished in recent years; it is also clear that, in spite of its continued categorization in bookshops as separate from 'literature', 'crime fiction' sits comfortably amongst the most popular types of fiction read today. In France, this genre (new or otherwise, genre or not) has a new valeur sÃ»tre: Fred Vargas, whom Ã‰ditions Viviane Hamy are proud to present as the undisputed queen of the French detective novel (la reine du polar franÃ§ais). And, for the purposes of the present study, Vargas's latest best-selling novel has an intriguingly reflexive-sounding title: Un lieu incertain.