Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Necessities of a Detective Hero

The redoubtable Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote mysteries and translated Dante with equal skill, once listed the basic practical necessities of the detective hero. Although she had the amateur sleuth in mind, her character sketch looks a lot like Sherlock Holmes.

In an essay in the volume As Her Wimsey Took Her, Margaret P. Hannay reports that the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey wrote an unpublished address on "The Craft of Detective Fiction" in which she identified six qualities needed in a fictional sleuth. I quote Hannay:
  1. The detective must be in a position to be brought into crimes and enabled to work with the police.
  2. He must be able to drop everything at a moment and go off somewhere to investigate the crime.
  3. He must be able "to tackle anything from a subtle poisoning to an elaborate alibi produced by mechanical means" if he is to be the hero of a series of books.
  4. He must have the physical equipment to be able to cope with violent criminals.
  5. He "must be leisured and rich."
  6. If he is to figure in a series of books, he should not be too old to start with, he should have some loose ends hanging out to be developed later, and his character should evolve gradually.
Sayers was, of course a noted Holmesian. Except for number 5, I think her description of the ideal fictional detective fits Holmes perfectly. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment