D is for Detectives. What good would a mystery novel be without a detective? Whether it be an official representative of the law such as Lt. Bill Weigand or Inspector Heimrich in the novels of Frances and Richard Lockridge, a private, "consulting" detective like Sherlock Holmes, or your out-and-out amateur like Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple, you've got to have a detective to help the reader sort out the clues and get to the bottom of the mystery. Personally, I always enjoy trying to figure it all out before the detective. And I'm pretty broad-minded. I like most any kind of detective--even the hard-boiled type in small doses.
Within each category of detective there is even more variety....There are the quiet, unassuming elderly ladies like Jane Marple and Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver whom everybody seems to underestimate. Those fluffy old ladies drink in the gossip and have their eye on everything that goes on in their small towns. There's Nero Wolfe sitting in his brownstone home--drinking beer, raising orchids and unraveling all the mysteries that come his way. There's the very logical and scientific "Thinking Machine" (Dr. S. F. X. Van Dusen). And, of course, there's Hercule Poirot who depends on his "little grey cells." Representing the law, you have Inspector McKee, one of New York's finest and starring in some of the first examples of the police procedural. More recently, and on the other side of the pond, there is London's Inspector Lynley. A very good detective--but a very human one. Elizabeth George's stories have a lot of human interest mixed in with her mysteries.
Hmmm. Maybe I should put The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton on hold and grab me a detective novel.....
Paula Marantz Cohen (What Alice Knew) giving us their solution to Jack's identity. There are blackmailers and poison pens, art thieves and frauds. There is a little larceny and a lot of blood-letting and it all serves to allow the crime fiction reader the pleasure of hunting down the culprit from the comfort of their own home, watching as justice prevails, and knowing that, for the most part, good will conquer evil in the fictional world of crime.