Monday, March 19, 2012

The A-List: The World's Greatest Detectives

I love to read mysteries.  I especially love trying to figure out what is going on before I get to the end of the book. If I can figure it out, I feel especially brilliant that day, and all is right with the world.  If I can't solve the mystery, I cry.  Not really, but I do consider it to be a learning experience. I've had my fun over the years, reading my mysteries.  I've developed a fondness for a few detectives as well.  There were some on television, like Scully and Mulder, Frank Pembleton,  Jimmy McNulty, and Grissom.  But the printed word adds a layer of complexity that you usually don't get with the visual medium.  Plus, I just like having a character that I can carry around in my purse.  

1. Hardy Boys  These guys make my list because, well, they were my first.  Yeah, I know that I'm a girl, and I wasn't supposed to read the Hardy Boys.  I was supposed to read Nancy Drew.  Call me a rebel, but Frank and Joe were just a heck of a lot more fun.  My parents would buy me a Hardy Boys mystery, and two hours later I would be asking for another one.  When the television show aired, I was in seventh heaven, even though the tv detectives looked nothing like those in the books.   

2.Jack Reacher  I can't exactly put my finger on why I like this character.  He'd probably annoy the crap out of me if he actually existed, but as an imaginary character, he is just fine.  Jack Reacher is a problem solver.  He's an out of work, ex-military cop who just rides the trails like people used to do during the Depression.  Reacher shows up in a town, there's a problem that looks interesting to him, and then he solves it.  He doesn't sit around moping about it, either.  He gets up and actually goes to the problem.  Then he smacks the problem around for a few pages, which is actually quite satisfying.  Reacher sometimes talks the problem out to himself, and then you can see where the smarts come from.  The guy drinks a truckload of coffee, however.  I fully expect his heart to explode at the end of one of Lee Child's books one day.

3. Lucas Davenport  This is the main character of John Sandford's 'Prey' novels, and his books are on my Kindle the day of release.  Davenport is a cop in Minnesota.  That sounds completely boring, doesn't it?  What sort of crimes could possibly happen in Minnesota that would warrant their inclusion in a novel? That is exactly what I said. Sandford is a master of witty dialogue; his conversations are extremely believable, and funny.  He solves the crimes with old fashioned police work. Feet on the ground, talking to people, knocking on doors.  Asking the right questions also helps, and Davenport seems to know exactly what to ask to keep the plot rolling. 

4. Batman  He is the World's Greatest Detective, and with good reason.  He always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else.  He plans his movements precisely.  He always looks into the Dark Heart of man.  He sees the shadows, and what they become.  He's also in the Bat Cave, throwing fibers and other pieces of evidence into a computer for analysis.  He has the equipment to perform some forensic activities, such as toxicology or fingerprint identification.  He never believes what he sees unless he's analyzed it.  I always felt that his detective skills were Batman's superpower.   

5. Sherlock Holmes  Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal aside, Sherlock Holmes is awesome.  I doubt that Arthur Conan Doyle had any idea what an icon he was creating with the formation of this eagle eye detective.  Some have speculated that Holmes had Aspbergers; I won't go that far, but the man was obsessive about details, had amassed an encyclopedic memory of knowledge.  He could tell where you were from based on the mud on your shoes!  That's pretty good detecting!  He worked hard at being an eccentric, but Doyle made it work. 

Your turn!  What are you favorite literary characters, and why?  I may like to pick up a few books for beach time reading!


  1. Encyclopedia Brown. HE was my first detective. Nobody else could compare.

    1. I remember him! Whatever happened to that guy?

  2. I like mysteries that are not too easy to figure out, but not so hard that the detective is the only one who figures it out, without the author laying out a few clues for the reader to read and put together. I am currently watching British mysteries on Netflix and they have led me to British authors, I like PD James to read because of her excellent character development.

  3. I'm with you on Sherlock Holmes but then we diverge!! All time fave detective is 'Boney' from Aussie 1950's crime novelist Arthur Upfield; next is Canadian author Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novels set in Canada; then the chicks - Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton), Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich); and a recent addition - French novelist Fred Vargas!


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