The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (Private Detectives & Other Miscreants)

We can go around and around all night about who the first fictional "private detective" was, but most of us, I think, will agree that Sherlock Holmes was the first significant fictional detective -- his 1887 debut was a literary shot heard 'round the world that still reverberates over a hundred and thirty years later. … Continue reading The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (Private Detectives & Other Miscreants)

Madame Storey

Created by Hulbert Footner (1879-1944) "Madame Storey... bids fair to become One of the most popular figures of crime fiction. She is unique. She is irresistible" Her exploits, as told in this volume, are spiced with action and startling denouements. Her methods of solving a mystery are extraordinary. To her envious confrére  they seem unreasonable, … Continue reading Madame Storey

Paul Beck (Alfred Juggins) & Dora Myrl

Created by M. McDonnell Bodkin, K.C. (1850-1933) "The devilish ingenuity of Mr. Bodkins' criminals is such as to make the nervous tremble for a world without Paul Beck." -- The Yorkshire Daily Observer PAUL BECK and DORA MYRL would have been interesting enough on their own: two prime examples of early fictional detectives, each successful … Continue reading Paul Beck (Alfred Juggins) & Dora Myrl

Miss Madelyn Mack

Created by Hugh C. Weir (1884-1934) MISS MADELYN MACK was a later rival of Sherlock Holmes, but her creator, Hugh C. Weir, apparently knew what the public wanted. So Madelyn came complete with a faithful Watson in the form of female reporter Nora Noraker, and a coke addiction of her own -- although in her … Continue reading Miss Madelyn Mack

The Lady Detectives

Early Female Eyes "If it's that delicate,... maybe you need a lady detective." -- Philip Marlowe in The Little Sister (1949) No business for a lady, indeed... Before the parade of bimbo eyes from the pulp era and before the nineteen eighties tsunami of more realistic female eyes swamped us, there were the lady detectives. A … Continue reading The Lady Detectives

Dorcas Dene

Created by George M. Sims (1847-1922) "It isn't usual," the Superintendent said, "for our men to act under the orders of a private detective, even one so talented as Dorcas Dene, but under the circumstances I consent." One of several Victorian and Edwardian female detectives who popped up in the wake of Sherlock Holmes, DORCAS … Continue reading Dorcas Dene

Miss Maud Silver

Created by Patricia Wentworth Pseudonym of Dora Amy Elles (1878-1961) Here's one that's probably not going to be confused with the hard-boiled school of private eyes. The redoubtable MISS MAUD SILVER (all the early lady detectives seemed to be "Miss Something or Another) is a spinster private investigator in London, England, specializing in thefts and … Continue reading Miss Maud Silver