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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Detective Fiction

A detective is an investigator, usually a member of a law enforcement agency who looks for evidence as part of solving a crime. The word was formed in the 1840s at the time when an organized police force was being developed in the UK.

Charles Dickens was one of the first to draw attention to the word detective, reporting in his magazine Household Words in 1850 that "To each division of the Force is attached two officers, who are determined "detectives."

The first detective story was Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue. It was published on April 20, 1841.


The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe, No. I, William H. Graham, Philadelphia, 1843 Wikipedia Commons

The first detective story published in Britain was Edgar Allen Poe's The Purloined Letter, which appeared in the Edinburgh Journal on November 20, 1844. It was the third of Poe's three detective stories featuring the fictional C. Auguste Dupin, the other two being The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of Marie RogĂȘt.

Before Edgar Allan Poe's detective stories, the genre was totally unknown in English or American literature.

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe

Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone (1868) is considered the first full-length detective story in English, he set a mold for the genre.

Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study In Scarlet, was published in 1887. It was the first work of detective fiction to have a magnifying glass used as a tool of investigation

E C Bentley (1875-1956)  is chiefly remembered as the author of Trent's Last Case (1913). The novel is a whodunit with a place in detective fiction history because it is the first major send up of that genre.

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