Three Crime Stories

Over the last few weeks I have thoroughly analyzed four uniquely different detective stories. Each story was gripping and compelling in its own way. The first story I read was titled 'A Wife in a Million' by Val McDermid. Basically in this story detective Maggie Staniforth is called in to investigate mysterious murders occurring in the area, whilst trying to keep her relationship under control. The second story is titled 'The Man with the twisted Lip' written by the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle'. In this detective story Detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr James Watson try to unravel an ominous case where a man seems to vanish without a trace. In this case Holmes has to use all his legendary detective qualities to unravel a truly bizarre case. 

The third story which I read was titled 'superfluous Murder' written by Milward Kennedy. In this ironic story Mr. John Mansbridge attempts to kill his cousin Felix Mansbridge in a bitter money dispute, however it becomes evident that John Mansbridge is too smart for his own good, and it is up to the detective to unravel a truly superfluous murder. The last of the stories which I read was titled 'The Reluctant Detective' by Michael Z. Lewin. In this story amateur detectives Fredrick and Dawn are unwillingly called in to investigate a suspected arson attack. So by using all their connections, they had to establish what really happened to the building. 

In the story 'A wife in a million' Maggie Stanforth is the detective out to solve a recent spate of deaths occurring from food poisoning whilst trying to keep her relationship with her lover Sarah under control. Firstly an interesting point about the detective is that she is a lesbian, and since this is the first detective story where the actual detective is gay, I think that Maggie automatically becomes more believable because her lifestyle reflects modern Britain, with statistics showing that 1 in 20 people are gay in this country. However there are some descriptions used by the author which I think are intended to make the character more believable, but in fact backfire and make her less realistic. Firstly throughout the story Maggie appears to be continuously stressed out "She noticed lines of strain around her eyes".

But as a detective, you should be able to handle pressure better than this like Sherlock Holmes did in 'The man with the twisted lip'. However a place where the writer does make the story slightly more realistic is by placing the tension between herself and her partner Sarah. Unlike other stories where everything is nice and rosy in the household, in this one the writer constantly emphasizes that everything is not well in the home. Also the fact that the writer even bothered to put empathizes in relations in the household makes the story stand out from other detective stories, which makes the detective seem less like a robot and more like a human.

There is also the fact that although there is no question that the two people love each other, there is an eerie tension in the household which makes the detective and the story more believable "…for fear of provoking another bitter exchange". The writer also makes the detective believable because of the way he empathizes her determined attitude to work. For instance, like nearly all other real life detectives who dedicate all their time on trying to solve a case, Maggie even goes one step further by even putting her relationship in jeopardy just to solve the case. Nevertheless the way the story ends the writer makes the detective look very unbelievable.

The way Sarah 'by chance' gives the lead to the case, which even Maggie, the detective with years of experience could not think of, is just not believable. Also the fact that there were no false leads like there usually are in murder inquiries is questionable. So to sum up the story and the detective in the words of Sherlock Holmes "There's plenty of thread but I can't seem to get it into the end of my hand" 

The second story which I read was 'The Man with the twisted Lip' by Sir Author Conan Doyal. When first reading this Sherlock Holmes novel I found the detective even more unbelievable than Detective Maggie Stanforth in 'A Wife in a Million' however considering the fact that it was set over 100 years ago Detective Sherlock Holmes seems quite a believable figure in this story. Mainly it was because of the language which is used, with phrases like "Pray continue your narrative" and "I am an old campaigner", which makes the story slightly more difficult to understand. Firstly I find it quite convincing that Sherlock Holmes was once an opium user as in most other detective stories including all the ones which I am reviewing, the detectives all seem to be squeaky clean.

However right at the beginning of this story we find out that Sherlock Holmes had once been a Heroin user. We also find out one of Sherlock Holmes special skills are disguising himself which not only fools his sidekick Watson, but ironically helps him solve the case. Something else which makes him seem more believable is unlike Maggie who constantly feels the strain of being a detective, Sherlock Holmes remains Ice Cool.

Furthermore another factor which makes Sherlock Holmes believable is that Sherlock Holmes is an intelligent man, who gathers all the evidence, looks at something from all angles, comes to a conclusion and unlike the detective in 'Superfluous Murder' is open to other ideas "The impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner…" and "…maybe you will see a spark where all is dark to me" Also what makes Sherlock Holmes more believable is like Maggie in 'A Wife in a Million' he is devoted to his work "…his mind would go for days, and even for a week, without rest". Also unlike Maggie in 'A Wife in a Million' Sherlock Holmes always keeps his emotions under control and doesn't let anything get in the way of him solving the case.