At a dinner in Chicago in his honor on June 4, 1963, Starrett gave a talk later reprinted under the title "How I Got That Way" in the March 1974 issue of The Baker Street Journal after his death. He ended that little speech with this thought:
More than any other form of fiction except perhaps the children's fairy tale - of which it is perhaps the successor - the detective story is (or should be) an allegory of Wickedness overcome by Virtue; of Evil confounded and put to flight by Justice and truth. It is Conan Doyle's triumph that The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are the best of all fairy tales for grownups.The mind rebels a bit at the notion of Sherlock Holmes as a fairy tale. In our day the designation seems dismissive. But the great G.K. Chesterton, a huge (in several senses) admirer of fairy tales and of Holmes, likely would have agreed with Starrett. His most famous observation about fairy tales is often paraphrased or misquoted, so here's what he actually wrote in an essay called "The Red Angel":
Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.What is Sherlock Holmes but a St. George? What are Moriarty, and Milverton, and Moran ("a fine collection of M's") and all the other villains of the Canon but dragons to be slain?