Essay: Detective Stories

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¶ … detective stories. One is represented by the so called Golden Age, the most famous representatives of which are Holmes and Poirot, the other one being the hard boiled detective fiction. In order to better understand the differences and similarities between the style of detective work and various other characteristics I will be analyzing two novels, each belonging to a different style and age. As a representative of the Golden Age I have chosen "The Hound of the Baskervilles" while "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler is a perfectly relevant example of the hard boiled era.

Just as the name hardboiled suggests it, this type of novels are concentrated around the figure of a tough detective who solves mysteries. Being cool and daring and having a very strong character (even with rude parts) seem to be some of the elements associated with the hard boiled detectives. Usually they are in their thirties or forties and enjoy working alone. They hang out in bad places and they drink a lot.

It is in shady bars that they manage to find some important information regarding the case they are following. Despite having alcohol issues they are always ready to fight back in case of attack. They are always wearing a gun and they have no problem beating up the criminal or even killing him in order to have justice done. This type of detective is always poor and he seems to live in order to solve his cases.

The ones which at the beginning seem to be rather easy turn out to be the complex and intricate. In order to solve them, the hard boiled detective often gets help from "lowlifes" and various members of the organized crime networks. The "tough" detective is not always a member of the police towards which he has an ambiguous attitude. He is nevertheless a good person and as a sort of noir hero he wishes to solve the problems of humanity on his own getting rid of all the negative elements.

The Golden Age era on the other hand was always built a detective whose role was one of unveiling a mystery. In order to fulfil his task he is never helped nor by coincidence, nor by his intuition. He always uses his reason and factual information in order to understand the order of the events and their significance. When telling the story of how he reached his conclusion he always gives the audience the most numerous details possible in order to demonstrate his personal capacities which turn him into a brilliant detective. Alibis represent a key element in the story as they help or incriminate parties. In addition physical evidence plays a fundamental role even though many times innocent people are set up and wrongfully arrested by the police. In the end the detective always manages to reconstruct what happened always providing the reader with the motives of the criminal as well. The criminal is always the least suspected of all the involved parties.

Sherlock Holmes is perhaps one of the most famous detectives from the Golden Age and the one who will solve the mystery of the hound of the Barskervilles. He analyzes all the available physical evidence such as the word "moor." Unlike the hard boiled detective who likes to do everything on his own, Holmes gets help from his assistant Watson. The story is complicated and involves various characters who had both the motive and the opportunity to commit the crime. In… [END OF PREVIEW]

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