This article traces some of the fundamental poetological changes that the traditional crime novel undergoes in the work of the Swiss author Friedrich Glauser at the beginning of the 20th century. The rational-analytical, conservative approach of the criminal novel in the 19th century implied – according to Luc Boltanski – the separation of an epistemologically structured, institutionalized order of “reality” and a chaotic, unruly, unformatted “world” – a separation that is questioned, but reestablished in the dramaturgy of crime and its resolution. By shifting the attention from the logical structure of ‘whodunnit’ to the sensual material culture and “atmosphere” that surrounds actions and people, Glauser’s novels blur these epistemological and ontological boundaries. The article shows how in Die Fieberkurve, the second novel of Glauser’s famous Wachtmeister Studer-series, material and sensual substances develop a specific, powerful dynamic that dissipates, complicates, crosslinks, and confuses the objects and acts of investigation as well as its narration. The material spoors, dust, fibers, fingerprints, intoxicants and natural resources like oil and gas – which lead the investigation from Switzerland to North Africa – trigger a new sensual mode of perception and reception that replaces the reassuring criminological ideal of solution by the logic of “dissolution”. The novel thereby demonstrates the poetic impact of the slogan of modernity: matter matters.

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