I often use detective elements in my books. I love detective novels. But I also think science fiction and detective stories are very close and friendly genres, which shows in the books by Isaac Asimov, John Brunner, and Glen Cook. However, whilst even a tiny drop of science fiction may harm a detective story, a little detective element benefits science fiction. Such a strange puzzle.
I think the detective story is by far the best upholder of the democratic doctrine in literature. I mean, there couldn't have been detective stories until there were democracies, because the very foundation of the detective story is the thesis that if you're guilty you'll get it in the neck and if you're innocent you can't possibly be harmed. No matter who you are.
What I try to do is write a story about a detective rather than a detective story. Keeping the reader fooled until the last, possible moment is a good trick and I usually try to play it, but I can't attach more than secondary importance to it. The puzzle isn't so interesting to me as the behavior of the detective attacking it.
Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe "" the only lady private detective in Botswana "" brewed redbush tea. And three mugs "" one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.
Alexander McCall Smith
Love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective's struggle to solve the problem. It stacks the cards, and in nine cases out of ten, it eliminates at least two useful suspects. The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective - but which, at the same time, you instinctively feel to be a mere episode. A really good detective never gets married.
Perhaps this is the purpose of detective investigations, real and fictional - to transform sensation, horror and grief into a puzzle, and then to solve the puzzle, to make it go away. 'The detective story, ' observed Raymond Chandler in 1949, 'is a tragedy with a happy ending.' A storybook detective starts by confronting us with a murder and ends by absolving us of it. He clears us of guilt. He relieves us of uncertainty. He removes us from the presence of death.
I spent a lot of time with a real detective, a lady detective inspector who was the only female detective inspector in the whole of East London. She and I hung out a lot. She showed me what she did and I spent time with her. So, [she was] a lot of the inspiration for the way I dressed and sometimes the dialogue in those interview scenes where we're cross examining and questioning the youths and trying to get a confession out of them.
The average detective story is probably no worse than the average novel, but you never see the average novel. It doesn't get published. The average -- or only slightly above average -- detective story does.... Whereas the good novel is not at all the same kind of book as the bad novel. It is about entirely different things. But the good detective story and the bad detective story are about exactly the same things, and they are about them in very much the same way.
I suppose I'm not quite the oldest detective on the block - David Jason is. When's he going to retire and give rest of us a chance?! No, his Touch Of Frost is terrific and a wonderful antidote to the po-faced detective shows around at the moment. Anyway, I can't retire. I have a wife and five chickens to feed.
The work of the philosophical policeman, " replied the man in blue, "is at once bolder and more subtle than that of the ordinary detective. The ordinary detective goes to pot-houses to arrest thieves; we go to artistic tea-parties to detect pessimists. The ordinary detective discovers from a ledger or a diary that a crime has been committed. We discover from a book of sonnets that a crime will be committed. We have to trace the origin of those dreadful thoughts that drive men on at last to intellectual fanaticism and intellectual crime. We were only just in time to prevent the assassination at Hartlepool, and that was entirely due to the fact that our Mr. Wilks (a smart young fellow) thoroughly understood a triolet.
He thought his detective brain as good as the criminal's, which was true. But he fully realised the disadvantage. "The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic, " he said with a sour smile, and lifted his coffee cup to his lips slowly, and put it down very quickly. He had put salt in it.
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conceived Sherlock Holmes, why didn't he give the famous consulting detective a few more quirks: a wooden leg, say, and an Oedipus complex? Well, Holmes didn't need many physical tics or personality disorders; the very concept of a consulting detective was still fresh and original in 1887.
My motto? Don't trust someone who is just as cagey as yourself." "What kind of detective are you?' 'A lousy one and proud of it. I write, remember?' She looked down at her hand and laughed. 'Berretta doesn't make lighters.' "Why I was a writer! My life revolved around fiction. I could make something up" "She looked down at her hand and laughed. 'Berretta doesn't make lighters.' "So they're not Tolstoy, they're a little shorter... Okay, okay a lot. Go ahead, read my mystery series anyway." "A detective has their boundaries especially me. So mine shifted occasionally... okay a lot" 'Beat it, Buster. My temper and this mace have a hair trigger.' 'Interference could be lethal.' I got right up in his face, hissing, 'Don't push me, I'm hormonal.' I'm not really a lousy detective, just rough around the edges.
Peggy A. Edelheit
Every man that ever lived craved perfect happiness, the detective poignantly reflected. But how can we have it when we know we're going to die? Each joy was clouded by the knowledge it would end. And so nature had implanted in us a desire for something unattainable? No. It couldn't be. It makes no sense. Every other striving implanted by nature had a corresponding object that wasn't a phantom. Why this exception? the detective reasoned. It was nature making hunger when there wasn't any food. We continue. We go on. Thus death proved life.
William Peter Blatty
When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. Then it happens we were in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it's bad business to let the killer get away with it. It's bad all around-bad for that one organization, bad for every detective everywhere. Sam Spade
In the detective story, as in its mirror image, the Quest for the Grail, maps (the ritual of space) and timetables (the ritual of time) are desirable. Nature should reflect its human inhabitants, i.e., it should be the Great Good Place; for the more Eden-like it is, the greater the contradiction of murder. The country is preferable to the town, a well-to-do neighborhood (but not too well-to-do-or there will be a suspicion of ill-gotten gains) better than a slum. The corpse must shock not only because it is a corpse but also because, even for a corpse, it is shockingly out of place, as when a dog makes a mess on a drawing room carpet." (The guilty vicarage: Notes on the detective story, by an addict, Harper's Magazine, May 1948)