Detective fiction, otherwise known as crime fiction is a type of genre usually involving a crime (Theft, Murder) in which a detective meets and examines several people to find out who committed the act. Usually the reader is led into suspecting the wrong individual due to false leads. The story usually leads to the finale in which the true culprit is discovered due to previous evidence which was obvious and necessary yet overlooked. In 1868 Wilke Collins wrote the first ever detective novel, ‘Moonstone’ it featured a detective who interviewed several people to find out who stole a precious diamond with a bad history.
However it is Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes character who is seen as the definitive maker of the genre. In 1887 Arthur Conan Doyle wrote ‘A study in Scarlet’, based on a character called Sherlock Holmes. It soon became popular with the public and so Conan Doyle began writing more short stories about the character, much like soap or serialised T. V show today. Just like serialised T. V shows today, people couldn’t wait to see what to happened to the character. Holmes was so popular at time because of a number of factors. At the time, crime was rife largely due to the dire police force.
When first established it the Metropolitan Police had only two detectives in 1942 and a mere fifteen in 1868. Police used few procedures and were often plagued by corruption, which was a major problem. Jack the Ripper was also at large at the time and people were frightened due to the police’s inability to catch him, and people feared to leave there homes. Sherlock Holmes became so popular because of his ability not only to catch the criminals using clever deductions and incredible ability’s, but also how he treats the police in being inferior to himself.
In England during the Victorian times there was a major social divide. This was due to a number of factors. At the time of Holmes there was an industrial revolution was at its peak, which meant certain social classes, particularly merchant who due to the building of new towns, began to become wealthy. This meant some were wealthy whilst others were in poverty. Women also had few rights with plenty of discrimination against them because they were women.
For a long time in Britain their has been social hierarchy, a pyramid system which meant that depending on your class you were more or less important than someone else. We have to start by analysing Sherlock Holmes, for he is the title figure and the main character in the stories. Holmes is a hero who is realistic and this helps people get more involved in his character. Conan Doyle describes Holmes so vividly that often people think that Holmes is a real person. Holmes is based also on a real life person, Dr Joseph Bell who Conan Doyle met whilst studying medicine in Edinburgh.
Holmes is a character who is intellectually brilliant, how he uses his powers of observation to piece together a picture, often surprising everybody, including Watson. For example during the speckled band, when he meets Mrs Hudson telling her before she even tells him “No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left glove” Holmes tells her after she ponders how he knew she had arrived in the morning. This is one of many times were Holmes shows his Observational skills. This I believe shows why part of Holmes character.
Rather then ask questions or move around to find clues, he remains still, and acts normal, yet he is observing everything that is going on around him, trying to piece together pieces of puzzle to create a bigger picture. Holmes generally is a man this sort of person. Holmes’s intellectual ability means that he often treats people, even Watson sometimes, as an inferior individual compared to him. Inspector Gregory for example is a man who Holmes thinks of as “An extremely competent officer, Were he not gifted to imagination he might rise to great heights in his profession”.