Who doesn’t love good detective fiction? Let’s start with a murder, mostly of a seemingly non-entity, in the most mysterious way…in fact better still keep throwing in a couple of more murders here and there. Then enters our detective, with his eccentricities and pet peeves…with an eye for detail and a nose for foul play. Some more nail biting twists and turns later, enough to keep you up through the night, when you are least expecting, the criminal is exposed. ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’!
And yet detective fiction has managed to keep us engaged since long. The thrill of guessing who the culprit maybe, forming and rejecting theories in your mind even as you bite off your nails and being gobsmacked at the most unexpected outcome…going back a few pages wondering how could you miss such an important clue and then making a mental note of it lest you need it in the next story, we all have been there, done that!
So here’s my tribute to the most iconic detectives of all times!
Although I am a Sherlock Holmes fan-girl, I cannot but start with Auguste Dupin, Edgar Allen Poe’s French detective or rather the first ever detective. Although he features in only 3 stories, of which I have read only one ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, Auguste Dupin is the inspiration for most detectives who came later including Sherlock Holmes. In fact the detective fiction genre borrows heavily from Poe’s stories; Dupin’s idiosyncrasies, his way of deduction, how he observes people around him, his close associate (who is the narrator of the stories) is some commonalities on which most of the detective stories are based.
My clear favourite – Sherlock Holmes. My first Sherlock Holmes was ‘The hound of Baskerville’ and I fell head over heels in love with Mr. Holmes. Has there ever been a more intelligent man? I have marveled and marveled at his science of deduction and have tried it enough times to assure you that it works…100%. Did you know that Doyle based the character, especially how he keenly observes people on the doctor he was interning with? Interesting isn’t it? My other Holmes favourites are ‘A Sign of Four’ and the ‘Specked Band’ …damn am I hearing the whistling sound?
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is another much loved detective. Poirot’ self-confidence and arrogance might have some similarity with Holmes, but he is a stylish man unlike Holmes, with his love for good clothes and even embroidered slippers. He is short and stout with an egg shaped head and an upward curled mustache, while this might seem funny, a funny man he is not. Poirot is characterized by his arrogance and how proud he is of himself. For me he is at his best in ‘Death on the Nile’, if you want to know Poirot, there is no way you can give this book a miss
Prodosh Chandra Mitra aka Feluda is India’s answer to all the detectives of the west. Created by Satyajit Ray, Feluda is handsome, young, brave, intelligent, charismatic and a martial arts expert, what more could you ask for? His adventures are full of twists and turns, a lot of action and travels, disguises, a complete roller coaster. Every Bengali child has read Feluda for sure. My favourite Feluda stories are ‘Jai Baba Felunath’ and ‘Sonar Kella’ ofcourse a lot of it has to do with Satyajit Ray’s superb celluloid adaptation.
Another detective I really like is Sam Spade. Though he has appeared in only one novel by Dashiell Hammett, ‘The Maltese Falcon’, unlike Dupin or Holmes or Poirot, Sam Spade is more Bond-ish, smart, suave and flamboyant and yet a tough guy…Aah the stuff heroes are made of!
Byomkesh Bakshi – I haven’t read Byomkesh Bakshi, my only source of reference here is the serial starring Rajat Kapoor on Doordarshan and friends who swear by him.
Batman – While we may know him as a superhero, Bat-Man first appeared in detective comics. How on earth could the ‘World’s Greatest detective’ not find a mention here
ACP Pradyuman – Come on now…this man has been solving all our ‘Kuch toh Gadbad hain’ mysteries since the last 14 years, that too without a promotion!
New Kid on the Block
Kupreet Yadav’s Andy Karan. I have read two of Andy Karan books – ‘Catching the departed’ and the ‘Girl who loved a pirate’. Andy Karan appears to be somewhat inspired by Patterson’s Alex Cross, an ex-army man, he is a non-nonsense investigative journalist by the day and an undercover govt. agent otherwise, quite interesting and promising….
Did I miss your favourite detective? Tell me who you think should be the World’s greatest detective!
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