Attempting to understand a detective might be impossible without the help of another detective to uncover the depths of character traits, personality and the unique sense of thrill. While watching Sherlock in class and reading Poe’s short stories over the weekend, I’ve done my best to put my own detective skills into play. Both Sherlock and the narrator in Poe’s “The Man of the Crowd” share key personality traits such as trying to stay hidden while following the steps of the cabbie and old man, respectively. For example, Sherlock follows the cab he thinks might be linked to the serial suicides, but does so while hiding out in a restaurant, setting his scene exactly as he needs it to uncover the details. As the detective-like character follows the old man in Poe’s story, he remains hidden in the streets of London. Both these detectives work their surroundings into their puzzle, tracing and following without leaving their own trail to be found. These characters also show a similar taste in truly enjoying putting the puzzle together under a crime. In both beginnings of the Sherlock episode and the short story, the detectives are hugely distracted from their surroundings and become infatuated with the idea of a crime. In “The Man of the Crowd,” Poe writes, “At this particular period of the evening I had never before been in a similar situation, and the tumultuous sea of human heads filled me, therefore, with a delicious novelty of emotion. I gave up, at length, all care of things within the hotel, and became absorbed in contemplation of the scene without.”
The detective, Dupin, in Poe’s “The Murders of Rue Morgue” also shows similar traits to Sherlock. Most notable being the keen sense of detail that the detectives reveal in minutes after a crime scene. While the show lets viewers see how Sherlock thinks, flashing images across the screen over dead bodies, Poe also invites us into Dupin’s thought process, allowing us to understand how he works out the puzzle, even if it’s just reading his partner.
Over all, after reading these initial stories and watching Sherlock, I’m hooked on the concept of detective fiction.