The Detective Fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Of the characters created by living writers of fiction none is known to so many readers as Sherlock Holmes; and it is not merely his trade that is suggested by the mention of his name, but also his habits, his habitat, his henchman.  Divide the people who had an opportunity of knowing Holmes into people who think and people who do not think, and the proportion who took advantage of the opportunity is probably higher in the first class than in the second.  Holmes is not the idol of a clique; it is not a mark of culture to know him; but not to know him is a sign of lacking some common sense of humanity.”

Times Literary Supplement, 23rd June 1927

The best known of all fictional detectives, and certainly the most influential, Sir Athur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was the first modern detective, escaping from the French police procedurals of Gaboriau and Lecoq (whose influence would be seen on the French police procedurals of Freeman Wills Crofts...). The cases the sleuth of 221B Baker St. tackles are grotesque and sometimes terrifying, but reason, supported by some very good clues (and Doyle certainly deserves credit for being the pioneer in this field), is able to banish the darkness.

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These pages copyright Nicholas Lester Fuller, 2001--2002. Created 6th December 2002.