Lucy Worsley's The Art of the English Murder is a fascinating look at how the detective novel was born from crime reporting, and how, eventually, detective fiction gave way to the darker American-style thriller of the Cold War era. Here, Worsley picks the 10 best fictional detectives.
Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Britons were flooding from the countryside into towns and cities. Their lives were safer now from nature and its dangers — famine, wild animals, disease. Their thoughts turned instead to the stranger living next door. Who was he? What might he do? Could he be a murderer, like the criminals who filled the pages of the cheap newspapers they read?
And so crowded cities like London needed a new professional: the detective. He, or she, was a super-hero for the age. In their scary new urban world, the Victorians found it reassuring to read about crimes being solved and justice served, which is why so many of our great fictional detectives were birthed during that period. Here is a list of the best of them.
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