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Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four, 1890
How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? ibid.
‘My mind,’ he said, ‘rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.’ ibid.
Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult is it to bring it home. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1892
It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes. ibid.
‘Excellent,’ I cried. ‘Elementary,’ said he. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1894
Ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity ... is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. ibid.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement. Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet
The past years has been filled with revelations about private detectives’ and journalists’ illegal accessing personal information on celebrities. But there is also a lucrative black market in information about you and me. All your secrets are up for sale. Dispatches: Watching the Detectives, Channel 4 2012
The Devil in the Catholic Church is so protected now that he is like an animal protected by the government. Satanic Vatican
Plots come to one at such odd moments, when you’re walking along the street and examining a hat shop with particular interest, suddenly a splendid idea comes into your head and you think now that would be a very neat way of covering up the crime so that nobody would get it too soon. Of course all the practical details are still to work out. The people have to seep slowly into your consciousness. Agatha Christie
Ackroyd was sitting as I had left him in the arm-chair before the fire. His head had fallen sideways, and clearly visible, just below the collar of his coat, was a shining piece of twisted metalwork. Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
What kind of people read detective stories and why? Invariably, I think, the busy people, the workers of the world. Agatha Christie, essay
‘You’ve a pretty good nerve,’ said Ratchett. ‘Will twenty thousand dollars tempt you?’
‘It will not.’
‘If you’re holding out for more, you won’t get it. I know what a thing’s worth to me.’
‘I, also, M. Ratchett.’
‘What’s wrong with my proposition?’
Poirot rose. ‘If you will forgive me for being personal – I do not like your face, M. Ratchett,’ he said. Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
He [Hercule Poirot] tapped his forehead. ‘These little grey cells. It is “up to them”.’ Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, 1920
‘It often seems to me that’s all detective work is, wiping out your false starts and beginning again.’
‘Yes, it is very true, that. And it is just what some people will not do. They conceive a certain theory, and everything has to fit into that theory. If one little fact will not fit it, they throw it aside. But it is always the facts that will not fit in that are significant.’ Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile
You surprise me, Hastings. Do you not know that all celebrated detectives have brothers who would be even more celebrated than they are were it not for constitutional indolence? Agatha Christie, The Big Four
Two new developments in the fight against crime: there was forensic science and the coming of a new kind of hero – the detective. A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley II: Detection Most Ingenious, BBC 2013
Edwardian press barons were demanding a murder a day for the pleasure of their newspaper readers. And even more so in the two decades between the wars when there was a great explosion of crime in the novels of the golden age of detective fiction. And the very best of it written by women. A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley III: The Golden Age
They made armchair detectives out of all of us. ibid.
Spade & Archer Detective Agency. The Maltese Falcon 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart & Mary Astor & Gladys George & Peter Lorre & Barton MacLane & Lee Patrick & Sydney Greenstreet & Ward Bond & Jerome Cowan & Elisha Cook junior et al, director John Huston, opening scene
My name is Marlow. General Sternwood wanted to see me. The Big Sleep 1946 starring Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall & John Ridgely & Martha Vickers & Peggy Knudsen & Regis Toomey & Charles Waldron & Charles D Brown & Bob Steele et al, director Howard Hawkes, opening scene
Vivian: So you’re a private detective. I didn’t know they existed, except in books. Or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors. My, you’re a mess, aren’t you?
Marlowe: I’m not very tall either. Next time, I’ll come on stilts, wear a white tie and carry a tennis racket. ibid.
Earth. United States. San Francisco. California. 1941 A.D. File: Dixon Hill Private Detective. Star Trek: The Next Generation s1e12: The Big Goodbye, Picard to holodeck computer
What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order. P D James, cited Face December 1986
I had an interest in death from an early age. It fascinated me. When I heard, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, I thought, Did he fall or was he pushed? P D James, cited Paris Review 1995
Sherlock Holmes: the greatest ever fictional detective. Worshipped by police the world over as the man who taught them how to solve crimes. Sherlock Holmes was the first to protect crime scenes from contamination. The first detective to look for minute evidence and traces. How Sherlock Changed the World, National Geographic 2013
Sherlock Holmes was a hundred and twenty years ahead of his time. Sherlock transformed the world of crime investigations. ibid.
Deductive reasoning – how Sherlock works out the puzzle of a crime – is the most timeless of his gifts to the world. ibid.
Joseph Bell – the model for Sherlock. ibid.
It has often been said that the more unusual the murder the easier it is to solve, but this is a theory I don’t believe. Nothing is easy, nothing is simple, and you should think of your investigations as a complicated experiment: look at what remains constant and look at what changes, ask the right questions and don't be afraid of wrong answers, and above all rely on observation and rely on experience. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
The detective story, as created by Poe, is something as specialised and as intellectual as a chess problem, whereas the best English detective fiction has relied less on the beauty of the mathematical problem and much more on the intangible human element ... In The Moonstone the mystery is finally solved, not altogether by human ingenuity, but largely by accident. Since Collins, the best heroes of English detective fiction have been, like Sergeant Cuff, fallible. T S Eliot, Selected Essays