Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unusual Detectives

Revelations of a Lady Detective. Revelations of a Lady Detective. Image taken from Revelations of a Lady Detective. Originally published/produced in George Vickers: London, 1864. George Vickers: London, 1864. . Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/163_2964167/1/163_2964167/cite. Accessed 4 Aug 2017.
It seems like from the beginning of detective fiction, authors tried to give their detectives a hook - making them unusual, and therefore memorable. Generally regarded as the first detective in fiction, Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin is a gentleman detective who solves cases to amuse himself. Sherlock Holmes plays the violin and boxes; he is a master of disguise and a habitual user of cocaine. Agatha Christie seems to use her fictional author character, Ariadne Oliver, to bemoan the folly of creating a detective that is too unusual - Oliver's detective, Sven Hjerson, is Finnish and a vegetarian, and Oliver is often at her wit's end plotting her novels with those traits, which she knows little about, in mind.

Authors still like to put their detectives in unusual milieus. For every gritty police procedural out there, you can find many titles and series (particularly cozies) featuring detectives and detecting teams from every walk of life - coffeehouses managers, tea shop owners, herbalists, crossword creators, knitters, and beyond.

Here's a handful of unusual detectives to pique your interest:

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
1950s vicar

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by C. Alan Bradley
11-year-old sleuth and aspiring chemist

The Hearse You Came In On by Tim Cockey
Maryland morticians

Deception on All Accounts by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe
Cherokee banker

Celine by Peter Heller
elegant, aristocratic private eye

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
Chet the dog, companion of an Arizona private investigator

Wine of Violence by Priscilla Royal
11th century prioress

Top o' the Mournin' by Maddy Hunter
tour guide

Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara
Japanese-American Hiroshima survivor and gardener in Los Angeles

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
private eye and Sixties music fan 

Gun With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
hard-boiled detective in the near future - mystery has elements of sci fi

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
detective who investigates based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Jewish refugee and detective in the Alaska panhandle

The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov
science fiction detective

Whiskey on the Rocks by Nina Wright
real estate broker

My Heart May Be Broken, But My Hair Still Looks Great by Dixie Cash
The Domestic Equalizers, hairdressers

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts
customer relations representative in mega-casino

Eight of Swords by David Skibbins
tarot card reader and former activist

The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton
forensic accountant

Want more unusual detective choices? Check out the Job of Series Character list on the website Stop, You're Killing Me, "a resource for lovers of mystery, crime, thriller, spy, and suspense books...listing over 4,900 authors, with chronological lists of their books (over 57,000 titles), both series (5,800+) and non-series. Use the alphabetical author and character links or the special indexes." It's a favorite resource of ours! You can also search our Books & Literature guide, which provides you with links to booklists on various topics and our own literary research eResource NoveList (free with your valid library card!).

No comments: