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Conan Doyle And Detective Literature

There are many different books, in many different genres. There are horror
novels, love stories, suspenseful books, and detective stories. The detective
story’s evolution has been a long and eventful process. The man responsible for
the biggest leap in the detective story was Arthur Conan Doyle. He gave the
world Sherlock Holmes, who could be considered the greatest investigator in
detective story history. Holmes was unique in detective story history. “…

The reader’s interest is captivated not only by the detective’s “unique
methods,” but to perhaps to even a greater degree by “the singular
personality of this remarkable man” (Sayers 10). Doyle also gave the world
Dr. Watson, Holmes’ sidekick. Other authors could have written about this pair,
but none could match Doyle. “Doyle was a master storyteller” (Snow,
8). Without Doyle the detective story would never have been what it is now.

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Cresterton states, “With Conan Doyle, the detective story at last came to
full fruition” (Cresterton, 170). This statement is true. All detective
stories after Doyle’s had some of the aspects of his stories. Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle shaped the way detective stories were written in the twentieth century by
using a third person limited perspective, using a structured plot line, and by
having Holmes investigate crimes other than murder. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was
the first detective story author to make good use of the third person limited
perspective. Holmes’ sidekick Watson is a smart man, but he could not compare to
the brilliance of Holmes. When Holmes was figuring out a mystery, he often left
Watson very confused. Holmes would do things that, to Watson, would make no
sense. At the end of the story, however, Watson would see the logic behind
Holmes’ actions. This quote is Watson thinking about the case he and Holmes were
working on. “Here I had heard what he had heard, I had seen what he had
seen, and yet from his words it was evident that he saw clearly not only what
happened, but what was about to happen, while to me the whole business was still
confused and grotesque” (Doyle, 35). This displays Watson’s confusion over
the case of “The Red-Headed League.” In “The Red-Headed
League”, the case is so bizarre that most of the readers, like Watson,
don’t have a clue as to what is going on. It is comforting to know that Watson
is as confused as the readers are. In “The Red-Headed League” there is
a point in the story where Holmes and Watson walk up to the pawn shop and talk
to Mr. Wilson’s assistant. After he shuts the door Watson asks Holmes why he
wanted to see the assistant. Holmes says that he wanted to see the knees of the
assistants trousers (Doyle, 34). It is obvious by Watson’s reaction that he has
know idea why Holmes wanted to see the assistants knees. At the same time the
readers are left pondering that very question. The whole scene in front of the
pawnshop also display another way that Doyle uses the third person limited
perspective well. At that point in the story Holmes has pretty much figured out
what happened. By telling Watson where he was looking, Holmes was dropping a
hint to Watson to see if he could figure out what Holmes already had. During his
stories Doyle would leave hints as to who committed the crime. This made the
story more interesting for the readers. Another way Doyle uses Holmes in his
stories is as a teacher to Watson. In the very beginning of “A Scandal in
Bohemia” Holmes deduces, from a quick glance, that Watson had gotten wet
lately, and had a clumsy servant girl. He deduced all of this by merely looking
at Watson’s shoes. He then asked Watson how many steps led up to his apartment.

Watson could not say, even though he had walked up those stairs countless times
(Doyle, 12). This is one of the examples of Holmes teaching Watson about
observation. The only way that Holmes’ observations make sense in the story is
if the story has a structured plot line. Doyle made all of Holmes’ stories have
plots that follow a logical structure. “You have reasoned it out
beautifully…It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true” (Doyle
40). In the story Holmes figured out that Mr. Wilson’s assistant was using his
pawn shop to tunnel his way into a nearby bank and rob it. Holmes figured out
all of this just by looking at


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