Friday, June 26, 2015

detective story - who created the genre? when?

The detective story has some roots in ancient literature, but the genre as we know it started surprisingly recently in 1841 when Edgar Allan Poe published "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". According to Britannica, the profession of detective had existed for only a few decades at that point. Wikipedia doesn't say who the first police detective was, but it does indicate that the first private investigator was Eugène François Vidocq in 1833.

A detective story may consist of the following traditional elements:
  • seemingly perfect crime
  • wrongly accused suspect to whom circumstantial evidence points
  • bungling dimwitted police
  • greater powers of detection and superior mind of the detective
  • startling and unexpected climax and resolution
The Golden Age of Detective Fiction (apparently it's an actual name that deserves capital letters) is the period between the 1920's and the 1930's.

There are plenty of big names, some of which I hadn't connected to being detective authors:
  • Sherlock Holmes : Sir Arthur Conan Doyle : 1887
  • Inspector French : Freeman Wills Croft : 1920
  • Hercule Poirot : Agatha Christie : 1920
  • Miss Marple : Agatha Christie : 1930
  • Lord Peter Wimsey : Dorothy L. Sayers : 1923
  • Philo Vance : S.S. Van Dine : 1926
  • Albert Campion : Margery Allingham : 1920
  • Ellery Queen : Frederic Dannay & Manfred B. Lee : 1929
  • Sam Spade : Dashiell Hammett : 1930
  • Perry Mason : Erle Stanley Gardner : 1933

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