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Sherlock Holmes was not perfect, and Watson even
creates a list of his strengths and weakness in "The Study in Scarlet",
the first Holmes story:
1. Knowledge of Literature.-Nil.
2. " " Philosophy.-Nil.
3. " " Astronomy.-Nil.
4. " " Politics.-Feeble.
5. " " Botany.-Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons
generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Knowledge of Geology.-Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different
soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers,
and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he
had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry.-Profound.
8. " " Anatomy.-Accurate, but unsystematic.
9. " " Sensational Literature.-Immense. He appears to know every
detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
Holmes may be the world's greatest detective, but he also ended up get
some of the most difficult cases. Even Holmes has been beaten, and on
more than occasion. Once, he was outwitted by Irene Adler, and has since
referred to her as "the woman". Many consider his defeat by her is the
reason why Holmes does not seem to have any sort of romantic life. Watson
does get married (twice even! Some may interpret the same text as a third
marriage), unlike Holmes.
Watson says the Holmes cocaine usage is his only vice, but does not consider
his smoking of the pipe or tendency to break the law to solve cases vices
(i.e. lie to the police, conceal evidence, burgle, housebreak, etc.).
Holmes also treats Watson quite cruelly on occasion, and yet Watson can
never stay angry at Holmes for long. If Holmes gave a good excuse, he
could probably shoot Watson and Watson would be okay with it.
Holmes had one important element to a few of his stories that took a large
amount of notice. He had a rival, equal to him in every way, except on
the opposite side of the coin. The Napoleon of crime, Professor Moriarty.
Holmes also had companions in a group of street urchins known as the "Baker
Street Irregulars" and a brother named Mycroft whose skills of deduction
are even greater than his own. Arthur Conan Doyle added so many elements
into the detective story, and improved many of Poe's. Not only was his
detective skillful, he made mistakes. Sherlock Holmes became "real". He
has an unforgettable personality that will live on long into the future.
While Doyle always considered Joseph Bell to be Sherlock Holmes, Doyle
himself solved two real life cases and thus got two innocent men out of
prison, though one ended up spending three years in prison (but once Doyle
entered the case, he saved the day!). Because of Doyle, the Court of Criminal
Appeal was established in 1907, so he even got law reform! Doyle may consider
Bell to be Sherlock Holmes, it is the opposite for Bell who once said
to Doyle in a letter, "You are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know
Since Holmes there have been many other detectives, including the hard-hitting
Dick Tracey, the super hero Batman, and of course, the lovable Hercule
Piorot. While I am not a big fan of Christie's work (at least a good portion
of it), she created a detective with a bit more humor and light-heartedness.
That humor will be passed down through future generations of detective
stories, mostly in one particular category of detective story.
Another important figure in detective literature is Maurice Leblanc, who
created the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin in a series of graphic novels.
He is often called the French criminal counterpart to Sherlock Holmes.
Lupin did created a legacy, like Holmes, as he is the grandfather of popular
cartoon character Lupin the 3rd. See what you learn when you do your homework?
One year before Piorot became an international phenomenon, a Japanese
man named Edogawa Rampo created a story called "The D Slope Murder Case"
starring Akechi Kogoro, one of the most popular detectives in Japanese
fiction. Edogawa Rampo was a big fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock
Holmes and Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin, but he actually changed his
name from Hirai Taro to Edogawa Rampo, which is actually Japanese rendering
of his favorite author's name. That author? Edgar Allan Poe.
Akechi is both eccentric and a master of disguise like Holmes, but he
also worked a lot closer with law enforcement and consults them with difficult
cases. He is a judo master and has his own version of the Baker Street
Irregulars called "The Boy Detective Club". Kogoro is a married man with
an adopted son, Kobayashi Yoshio, who is actually leader of the Boy Detective
Club. He too is skilled at the art of disguise, but is unusually good
at disguising himself as a female. Akechi also has a criminal rival like
Holmes, Kaijin Nijyuu Menso (the 'Fiend with Twenty Faces'). He is not
a violent criminal and is only a criminal to prove his genius to the world.
Akechi and Kajin are rivals, and yet have that same kind of respect Holmes
had for Moriarty.
Moving onward into the future we must discuss too more important parts
of detective fiction. These pieces of information are essential knowledge
if I am to continue onward, but one piece of the puzzle isn't even detective
fiction! Let's begin with the detective fiction first.
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys brought in a new element into detective
fiction. The new element: child detectives. While in previous works children
may have assisted adult detectives, now children were starting to take
the lead and solving mysteries adults could not solve. The Boxcar Children,
Cam Janson and Encyclopedia Brown are just a few examples of the many
famous child detectives.
Now we must take about the last element of detective fiction. That is
the action. While it isn't as required in detective stories, it seems
to be in many. The Final Problem was actually more action and suspense
than mystery, but it still had quite a bit of mystery in it. James Bond,
shockingly, does actually have some mystery in it. It is GREATLY overshadowed
by action, but there are still slight traces of the things picked up from
the detective stories before him. Bond is eccentric, skillful and thinks
outside the box like his predecessors. While his genre is really more
action than detective, we must contribute him to the frequent use of gadgetry
among younger detective characters, including a young Japanese detective
with huge glasses.